Once again the worry wart shows up again in the form of the Colorado Rockies‘ past. Through 14 games this team is 9-5, and barring a comeback from L.A. tonight, will be 10-5. Early season success is important for a young team looking to be a playoff contender. The early season success has Rockie fans around Denver cautiously optimistic, given the teams past.
Sprinkled throughout the Colorado Rockies history is early season success which gives way to a mediocre final four months. Denver will always belong to the Broncos, but the Rockies aren’t getting any buzz in the local media. As much as these ridiculous Bronco fans need to hear from the assistant ball boy on the QB controversy; the media is waiting for the Rockies to fail.
The hard part about this has been not being able to combat that gut feeling of failure just on the other side of May myself. So what makes this season any different? Why should we be viewing this team in a better light than teams of the past? It’s hard for me to paint a pretty picture for you, but I’m going to try.
First, you have to look at the team’s ability to deal with adversity. As reported all over for a month now, this team is injury riddled. It’s hard to see that through their record, but this team isn’t at full health. You already know the names and the heroes in their place, so you know the depth is there. Even when one of the heroes (Parra) misses time, the replacement steps in and contributes. In addition to what the team was missing at the start of the season, they then lost their ace Jon Gray to a toe injury. You hear “next man up” in sports all the time, the Rockies are pushing that phrase to the max. If anything, this will be a big positive come pennant and wild card race time. Depth then becomes just as important as a strong bullpen.
The team has never had a backend pitching staff like this before. The club has had closers that were successful (Huston Street, Brian Fuentes), but they have never had set up guys of this quality. Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino serve as the 7th and 8th inning setup pitchers, but could easily step in as closers on many teams.
If those two haven’t swayed you yet…let’s talk offense. This ballclub has been built on offense since the beginning, yet in 2017 we are waiting for those bats to come alive. We spoke last week about the lack of offense from this club, which could be the sign we will sustain success. This offense will not be in a slump all season. At some point it’s going to wake up, giving even more run support to the pitching staff. If this isn’t the biggest piece of evidence for optimism, I don’t know what is.
Of course all of these pros have to come with some cons, right?
What happens if the injuries don’t stop? It’s easy to say that the next man up needs to perform, but if the injuries keep rolling, you end up with a depleted roster. When you are constantly calling up prospects who aren’t ready, it’s hard to win at this level. In some cases it can even ruin the career of the young ballplayer. The Rockies have to be careful with the way they handle injuries, they need to be healthy heading into June and July.
Yeah, that bullpen is solid, we’ve raved about it for a while, but it’s in dangerous territory right now. This early in the season is not a good time to be pushing the limits on how much the bullpen can handle. Outside of Antonio Senzatela, these starters haven’t been able to consistently pitch into the 6th inning. This has caused manager Bud Black to dip into the bullpen early and often, which is the biggest cause for concern. If the starters don’t turn it around, we could be looking at the death of the playoffs in early July.
What if the bats don’t ever come out of hiding? Hahaha, just kidding that wasn’t even a real question. This is the Colorado Rockies. Coors Field turns nobodies into somebody’s. This team is built to succeed on paper, but the starting pitching could put a stick in our spokes. Here’s to hoping this gut feeling that when the calendar turns to June, this teams stays consistent.