Predicting Rockies' 2021 Opening Day roster
The Rockies are all but set for the regular season, barring an unexpected injury in the last days of Spring Training. One roster spot is up for debate, but opening the season with four games at Coors Field against the World Series champion Dodgers likely will lead Colorado to carry a ninth bullpen member.
If manager Bud Black chooses, he can keep the four starters for the series against the Dodgers -- Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, Jon Gray and Austin Gomber -- on regular rest and not start Chi Chi González until April 10 at San Francisco. Or Black could use González as early as April 6 against the D-backs. It may depend on whether the Rockies have a short start against the Dodgers.
Non-roster utility man Connor Joe is still being considered. However, rookie reliever Ben Bowden, the Rockies' No. 15 prospect, appears to have the upper hand -- make that the left hand.
Without Bowden, a 2016 second-round pick whose anticipated contributions have been delayed by frequent injuries, the Rockies will not have a left-hander in the bullpen. Tyler Kinley’s effectiveness against lefties helps, but the Dodgers have enough left-handed-hitting firepower (Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Corey Seager) that the Rockies can see having to match up more than once a game.
Of course, it’s premature to discount Joe, or non-roster right-hander Dereck Rodríguez. Decisions will have to be made if an injury occurs. Also working against Joe and Rodríguez is the Rockies’ full 40-man Major League roster. To add a non-roster player, the Rockies would have to move someone to the 60-day injured list or otherwise push someone off the roster.
It appears right-hander Jordan Sheffield (No. 30 prospect) will not relinquish his spot. Sheffield was a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Dodgers, meaning he has to make the big league regular-season roster to avoid all the mechanisms for removing him. Sheffield has been strong in every outing but one.
The Rockies added González after making the move they didn’t want to make -- placing righty Scott Oberg on the 60-day IL after he underwent emergency surgery for blood clots in his right elbow. It's the fourth time Oberg has been sidelined with the condition.
The season-opening 15-day injured list consists of lefty starter Kyle Freeland, out at least a month with a left shoulder strain, and second baseman Brendan Rodgers, who was in line for his first Opening Day start before sustaining a right hamstring injury during camp. Oberg and right-handed starter Peter Lambert (recovery from Tommy John surgery) will begin the year on the 60-day IL. Outfielder Ian Desmond, who chose not to play this season, is off the 40-man Major League roster and on the restricted list.
Here is the final projection of the Rockies' 26-man 2021 Opening Day roster. Keep in mind this is not official. Surprises happen.
Catcher (2): Elias Díaz, Dom Nuñez
First base (2): C.J. Cron, Josh Fuentes
Second base (1): Chris Owings
Third base (1): Ryan McMahon
Shortstop (1): Trevor Story
Outfield (5): Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, Charlie Blackmon, Sam Hilliard, Yonathan Daza
Starting pitchers (5): Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, Jon Gray, Austin Gomber, Chi Chi González
Bullpen (9): Daniel Bard, Mychal Givens, Tyler Kinley, Yency Almonte, Carlos Estévez, Jairo Díaz, Jordan Sheffield, Robert Stephenson, Ben Bowden