Want to watch a few World Series games at Coors Field this season? Silly question right? Rockies fans have been waiting since 2007 to do just that. Now given the player development and off-season acquisition efforts of General Manager Jeff Bridich, Manager Bud Black and their staffs, this is shaping up to be the season it could happen.
The 2017 Rockies scrambled through the season with up and down offensive numbers, a surprisingly effective group of young starting pitchers and a tough bullpen. The first half of the season was impressive. After the All-Star break, they struggled to post enough wins to snatch the final Wild Card berth. Unable to make it through the one-game shootout, it was back to the drawing boards for Bridich and Black in their efforts to build a team that had the guns and runs to make it all the way through the playoffs.
The old saw says “great pitching beats great hitting,” and that’s where they started. The ideal team has the starting pitching and the hitting necessary to consistently power it through the sixth inning with a lead—and then it brings on a shutdown bullpen that most of the time will hold that lead. Black felt that his maturing young starters Jon Gray, German Marquez, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland could do an even better job this season.
Bridich then soared into the stratosphere of the free-agent market, replacing All-Star closer Greg Holland with former Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs bullpen ace Wade Davis. Then he doubled down, acquiring former Cleveland Indians primary setup reliever Bryan Shaw, and resigning Jake McGee.
That’s a serious commitment to the tune of $110 million over three years. This tough crew will be supported by returning relievers Mike Dunn, the durable Chris Rusin and Adam Ottavino. That means the Rockies will now field one of the premier bullpens in the major leagues.
The hitting and defensive stars are back with the exception of longtime Rockies star Carlos Gonzalez, who is still an unsigned free agent. Also missing will be the popular first baseman Mark Reynolds. Nolan Arenado will continue to dazzle at third base, Trevor Story will return to the shortstop with D.J. LeMahieu at second base. With Reynolds gone, first base is up for grabs. Vying for that position will be veteran Ian Desmond and minor league standout Ryan McMahon. The outfield will feature batting champ Charlie Blackmon in centerfield. More than likely, Gerardo Parra will be in right field. Either Ian Desmond, the now healthy David Dahl or a bulked-up Ramel Tapia will be in left field.
To add to this impressive mix of talent, catcher Chris Ianetta has returned to his home with the Rockies. Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy will battle for the backup catcher’s spot. Finally, the versatile Pat Valaika will bring his big bat into key pinch-hitting situations, plus filling in at defensive positions as needed.
Here’s a final tip. Yes, the Rockies want to win the World Series. But on the way, what they really want is to finally win the Western Division by beating the Diamond Backs and the Dodgers. Pay your cable bill or buy some tickets. This should be fun.
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