Predicting the Rockies' Opening Day roster
Wide-open rotation competition to be settled during spring camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Rockies' Spring Training about to start, we might as well take a too-early look at how manager Bud Black's roster could look for the March 28 regular-season opener at Miami.
Without even an official Spring Training drill being conducted, much less a Cactus League game being played or (hold your breath) the first spring injury being reported, don't hold us to this. We'll repeat the process several times before the true regular-season roster is set:
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Catcher (2):Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters
It could take a village to get through the season, but we'll go with the incumbents for now.
First base (2): Daniel Murphy, Mark Reynolds
Murphy is the experienced bat that the Rockies have been seeking. Reynolds, a non-roster invitee signed to augment the bench, has a way of making himself counted.
Second base (2): Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson
Going with a left (McMahon) and right (Hampson) combination here. The club's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Brendan Rodgers, could change things if he blows away the competition in camp. Pat Valaika will receive a shot at the starting job, but Reynolds may be his main competition for a bench spot.
Third base (1): Nolan Arenado
Arenado is a superstar. Keep in mind McMahon, Hampson and Rodgers can play the spot capably in the case of an injury that would bring dread to Rockies Nation.
Shortstop (1): Trevor Story
Story has been healthy for the most part for two seasons, and the Rockies have gone to the postseason each time. He is the hardest regular to replace in case of injury. But if Rodgers proves ready, the Rockies actually could withstand a lengthy Story injury.
Outfield (4): Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, Ian Desmond, Raimel Tapia
With the Rockies considering moving Blackmon to a corner on a full- or part-time basis, even where the starters actually stand is up in the air. But the key here will be Tapia, who is out of Minor League options and really needs to stick. By not re-signing Gerardo Parra, the Rockies have essentially challenged Tapia to either fight his way into the starting lineup or at least be a viable lefty bat off the bench.
Utility (4): Hampson, McMahon, Reynolds, Desmond
As is the case with many clubs these days, the Rockies have preached and developed versatility, so many starters are seen in a super-utility capacity. Don't be surprised to see McMahon as an option at first base; Desmond has played first as well; Hampson can move to center field and the outfield can be adjusted around him; Rodgers has played second, short and third (he looked strong there last year); and Reynolds can play the infield corners, has limited experience in the outfield and just may throw his glove into the second-base mix.
Starting pitchers (5): LHP Kyle Freeland, RHP German Márquez, LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Jon Gray, RHP Chad Bettis
This is predicting Bettis, with experience and expected health after the blister problems last season, will find his way back into the rotation. But RHP Antonio Senzatela finished last year as a starter and could fight his way back in, and RHP Jeff Hoffman (last year of Minor League options) and No. 3 prospect RHP Peter Lambert will have their chance to either rip away a job or step in if there are injuries.
Relief pitchers (8): RHP Wade Davis (closer), RHP Scott Oberg, RHP Seunghwan Oh, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Bryan Shaw, LHP Chris Rusin, RHP Senzatela, LHP Mike Dunn
Senzatela is a prime rotation contender and would by no means be a surprise if he took a spot. Dunn underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery in early September, but should be ready for Opening Day. Black said: "We will monitor him closely early in Spring Training. He's currently throwing off the mound and feeling good." Outside this crew, there is opportunity for LHP Harrison Musgrave and RHPs Yency Almonte, Carlos Estévez and DJ Johnson, someone else from the rotation competition or a prospect to take a spot.
So, let's look at a pure 25:
LHP Kyle Freeland
RHP German Marquez
LHP Tyler Anderson
RHP Jon Gray
RHP Chad Bettis
RHP Wade Davis
LHP Mike Dunn
LHP Jake McGee
RHP Scott Oberg
RHP Seunghwan Oh
LHP Chris Rusin
RHP Antonio Senzatela
RHP Bryan Shaw