The Colorado Rockies hope they can make it out of the NL West this year, a feat they haven’t pulled off since 2009. While they boast a potent offense, they’re likely to look up at the Giants and Dodgers for most of the season. They’re hopeful a rebuilt bullpen and an improved pitching staff will help even the odds. They kick off the season Monday at Milwaukee, but which 25 guys are going to start off in Wisconsin?
Catcher (2): Dustin Garneau, Tony Wolters
Wolters and Garneau are Plan B. A broken arm to upstart Tom Murphy left the Rockies with backups for the foreseeable future. Garneau makes it by default as the backup. Both are placeholders in their current roles pending a Murphy recovery
First Base (1): Mark Reynolds
A familiar story as catcher – Reynolds gets the nod thanks to Ian Desmond’s fractured hand. Once Desmond returns, Reynolds should stay as a bench bat, shifting Pat Valaika back down to the minors.
Second Base (2): D.J. LeMahieu, Christian Adames
LeMahieu, the reigning batting title holder, hopes to build on his strong 2016. He broke out last year thanks to strong contact skills and a great batter’s eye. Adames will be the Rockies’ super-utility on the year.
Third Base (2): Nolan Arenado, Alexi Amarista
Arenado isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and should be written in stone for the next decade as the Colorado Rockies third baseman. He is one of the best up-and-comers in the game, and if the Rockies have a good year, it means he had a good year.
Shortstop (1): Trevor Story
Story and LeMahieu made for quite the breakout tandem up the middle last year. Unfortunately, they couldn’t complete their season together. Injury cost Story much of the second half last year, but his insane batting eye and plus power makes him a good bet to return on the promise shown in 2016. Adames can backup shortstop, so the Rockies carry just one guy here.
Outfield (4): Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra, Chris Denorfia
David Dahl’s injury likely finds him on the ten-day DL to start the season, making room for Parra in the outfield rotation. Denorfia has played great this Spring Training, so he gets the nod over Jordan Patterson. Patterson still has plenty of options, making the decision easier. Blackmon and CarGo were never in doubt as opening day starters, even if neither is a shoo-in to finish the season in Colorado.
Starters (5): Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez
Gray, Anderson, and Chatwood spent Spring Training knowing they’d have a rotation spot. The final two slots ended up between Freeland, Marquez, Harrison Musgrave and Antonio Senzatela. Economics of the game (options) keep Senzatela Musgrave in the minors. Kyle Freeland impressed Rockies coaches in Spring Training, and Marquez seemingly won his spot in his final Spring Training start. Gray has a high ceiling and would get more publicity if he pitched literally anywhere else.
Relievers (8): Mike Dunn, Carlos Estevez, Jordan Lyles, Jake McGee, Jason Motte, Adam Ottavino, Chad Qualls, Greg Holland
The Rockies needed to rebuild their bullpen, and they brought in Wade Davis and Mike Dunn to shore it up. With Holland, along with Qualls, Ottavino and Estevez, we find four former closers in the bullpen. This could lead to creative usage, but given the usual situation with Rockies pitchers, it will probably be chaos. Chris Rusin and Jairo Diaz are both injured and at least as talented as half the bullpen. Should struggles arise, they will get the call once healthy.