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Rockies' pitching needs to take step forward in '16

Both rotation and bullpen must improve if Colorado is to contend
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- It's time to begin looking toward the Rockies' 2016 season. Today begins a series of snapshots to set up where the team has been, where it is and where it hopes to go.

"On the Rebound" is a fitting place to start. The Rockies' biggest problem last season, and for years before that, has been pitching, so it stands to reason that pitchers mostly populate the list of folks needing to erase the poor taste of 2015.

DENVER -- It's time to begin looking toward the Rockies' 2016 season. Today begins a series of snapshots to set up where the team has been, where it is and where it hopes to go.

"On the Rebound" is a fitting place to start. The Rockies' biggest problem last season, and for years before that, has been pitching, so it stands to reason that pitchers mostly populate the list of folks needing to erase the poor taste of 2015.

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RHP Eddie Butler: From 2012-13 in the Minors, Butler struck out 316 in 339 1/3 innings and never had an ERA above 2.39. The next year, he found himself in the Majors, but a shoulder injury in 2014 and a change in strategy have left him 4-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 19 Major League starts over two seasons. After being sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque twice last season -- the second time not to return -- Butler has vowed to return to his sinkerball-dominant style to see if it works in the Majors.

Video: Rockies feel good about returning pitchers in 2016

RHP Tyler Chatwood: Chatwood hasn't pitched since early in 2014 because of Tommy John surgery. Before his injury, Chatwood was 14-11 with a 4.05 ERA with the Rockies, and he was highly effective at Coors Field. The Rockies hope he can rejoin the rotation to start the season, but they must keep an eye on him and he must speak up if he feels any fatigue.

RHP David Hale: A chance to break camp with the starting rotation went by the wayside when Hale suffered a left oblique injury while swinging the bat in a Spring Training game last year. Hale also committed to much-needed fundamental changes during the season. He finished 5-5 with a 6.09 ERA in 17 games (12 starts), but by the end of the season, he had incorporated the changes that gave his delivery more momentum toward the plate.

RHP Jordan Lyles: Will this guy ever have good luck? A broken non-throwing hand in 2014 and a left big toe injury that required surgery last year snuffed out what could have been strong seasons. The good news is that Lyles has never had an arm issue. After going 9-9 with a 4.56 ERA in two seasons with the Rockies, he is expected to grow into a solid member of this year's rotation.

Video: COL@STL: Logan strikes out Moss to get out of trouble

LHP Boone Logan: Between elbow issues, a bout with diverticulitis and inconsistency, Logan has gone 2-6 with a 5.37 ERA since signing a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Rockies. He can erase that by returning to his Yankees form (19-7, 3.38 in four years before signing with the Rockies).

LHP Tyler Matzek: After going 1-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his final six starts of 2014, Matzek entered last season in the starting rotation with expectations of taking off from there. Instead, a lack of control, which stemmed from what was diagnosed as performance anxiety, led to him losing his rotation spot in May, not to return to the Majors. He finished with some strong relief outings at Albuquerque, and he will try to reclaim a rotation spot in the spring.

RHP Adam Ottavino: Ottavino made 10 scoreless appearances and claimed the closer role last season before suffering an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. The Rockies want to be careful with his return. He could return as early as June, but it may be after the All-Star break.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colorado Rockies