SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies Spring Training was notable for a change at the top of the lineup and some encouraging developments in the starting rotation. Here are situations to consider between now and baseball’s return.
The Rockies are serious about enhancing Charlie Blackmon’s run production
David Dahl, an All-Star last season, has speed and has shown power at the Major League level. He hit leadoff much of his Minor League career. Those are among the traits that made Charlie Blackmon arguably the Majors’ best leadoff hitter since he moved to that spot in 2014. If Dahl is Blackmon 2.0 and Blackmon is, well, Blackmon, the new lineup could enhance run production.
The starting pitching could be better than anyone expected
It was easy based on last season’s Majors-worst 5.87 starter ERA to peg starting pitching as a weakness. But what if last year’s poor stats were based on injuries and devoting the end of the season to developing depth? This spring, German Márquez and Jon Gray looked as if they’d take a step forward. Even more, lefty Kyle Freeland’s new, smoother delivery had him headed in the right direction and righty Antonio Senzatela showed the secondary pitches that had been long coming.
Wade Davis hit the strike zone
The 8.65 ERA was not the only shocking figure regarding Wade Davis last season. He walked 6.1 hitters per nine innings. His previous career high was 4.3. In a few spring outings, Davis stayed in the strike zone, which is a big part of the battle. An effective Davis relieves many bullpen headaches.
Starting pitching depth is a question
The best the Rockies could do at the end of last season was develop depth. But already that depth is depleted. Righty Tim Melville didn’t pitch all spring because of a rib injury suffered before camp, and righty Peter Lambert went down with a right forearm strain before camp was halted. If injuries to the rotation occur when baseball returns, the short season could be a long one.
Are they ready for hard times?
A soap opera-like offseason, with third baseman Nolan Arenado angry at general manager Jeff Bridich over unspoken reasons, hung over camp in the beginning. However, proceedings were quite businesslike when players hit the field. A leadership group of Arenado, Blackmon, shortstop Trevor Story and veterans Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond will have to steady the team should rough times hit.