The regular season is finally here and now that the first week of games is officially in the books, we discuss how the Rockies have performed during the first two series.
We asked ourselves 3 questions about the Rockies and our individual answers are presented below. Got an idea for a future 3 up – 3 down discussion? Email us at email@example.com.
1. What (if anything) has impressed you about the Rockies so far?
- Brendan: The bullpen has been better than I expected. Brothers and Betancourt have shown that they can be dominant at the end of games (assuming routine plays are made in the field) and the middle relief has been effective so far. Bullpen problems are usually exposed during the second half, when over-use and fatigue take their toll, but so far so good.
- Kevin: Juan Nicasio. He pitched great in his first start, even if it was against the lowly Astros. His velocity topped out at 97 mph, and he kept hitters off-balance with his off-speed offerings. If Juan continues to develop his off-speed pitches, he could turn into a top of the rotation starter. Perhaps the most impressive part of Nicasio’s comeback has been his confidence facing hitters. He appears to be unfazed by his horrific injury from last year, and he doesn’t seem to mind at all the fact that any hitter could smoke a line drive up the middle at any time.
- Ned: Nothing about the Rockies has impressed me so far. I thought the offense would be a bright spot, but not so far, even with Wednesday’s breakout. To get a little positive, the Cuddyer and Hernandez acquisitions have met my expectations. Both are quality players in the field, and in the batters box.
2. What has been the most concerning aspect of the first few games?
- Brendan: Both hitting and defense have been problems, but I have to go with the hitting. The Rockies lost too many close games last year because they could not consistently score runs and so far it looks to be more of the same. The breakout performance against the Giants showed what this club can do and makes the 0 to 2 run games even more frustrating. This is a team built for production out of the middle of the lineup, and the Rockies will continue to struggle until CarGo-Tulo-Helton start swinging the bat with more consistency.
- Kevin: Everything not Juan Nicasio. The defense has been porous. The pitching has been inconsistent. Except for Wednesday’s outburst, the hitting has been terrible. Among all this malaise, the most concerning aspect has been the offense. I expect that the pitching will have ups and downs and that the defense will start to play better. However, prior to Wednesday, the team’s slash line was .180/.308/.534. Respectively, those were good for 28th , 25th, and 27th in the majors. After the Giants series, those numbers improved to .251/.412/.721, which respectively are 11th, 9th, and 9th in the majors. While this shows dramatic statistical improvement, the Rockies won’t experience much success until these numbers are more evenly dispersed among games.
- Ned: Two things. First, the Rockies still haven’t found a solution at third base. After last year, we called third base a black hole for the Rockies. Unfortunately, nothing has changed except that the power potential of Chris Nelson is non-existent. Maybe it is time to promote Arenado, and give him OTJ training. Second, the rotation has been terrible with the exception of Nicasio. Without pitching, you don’t win in the big leagues.
3. Is it too early to panic?
- Brendan: Of course it is too early panic, but that is not going to stop me. The hitting is terrible, the defense is a joke, and the pitching has been up and down. I was looking forward to a club capable of scoring 5+ runs a game and have been completely disappointed. All of the offseason changes have not improved the black holes at 2B or 3B. Luckily, it is April so there is PLENTY of time to turn things around, but the early signs are not good.
- Kevin: Of course. However, feel free to temper your optimistic pre-season expectations. There are several red flags with this team: Jeremy Guthrie is the number one starter and the 49-year-old Jamie Moyer is the fifth starter (slotted in the two). Guthrie is better suited as a 3 or a 4, and Moyer is better suited starting for the opposing team. Meanwhile, although the bullpen has been decent, any Rafael Betancourt struggles as the closer present a strong head-wind for any recovery this team hopes to have. As for the lineup, I still believe that this will be an above-average lineup, but the offense will remain stagnant until hitters one through three start producing.
- Ned: It’s never too early to panic, but now is not the moment. Within a few weeks, the offense will come to life, and the defense will prove that it is quite good. This is baseball, and pitching is always the key to success. Chacin and Nicasio will be solid contributors if they stay healthy. Guthrie will never be a world beater, but should be a credible number three starter. Hopefully, one of the kids can replace Moyer by mid-season. I believe the success or failure of the season will depend on the development of Drew Pomeranz—like hitting, pitching is contagious. We need Pomeranz to lead the way.