The score is 8-4 in the third inning, the visitors lead and the Rockies are struggling to even record three outs to get to the home half. It’s a late summer’s day, the bullpen is as active as the squall line bearing down on 20th and Blake, we’ve all been at Coors Field for this game—and we will all be there again sometime in 2017 for this game. But here’s the thing about the 2017 Colorado Rockies, this type of mess is going to happen a whole hell of a lot less.
The reason: Talent, depth and management.
Quietly the Rockies — who never spend a dime on pitching, and are too busy working on getting Oskar Blues’ newest creation on tap up on the Right Field Party Deck (a great decision if you ask me) — have committed a lot of their resources to the mound. Their dedication to developing in the center of the diamond is already showing off before the season has started.
Four uber talented, maybe four of the top 20 pitching talents the Rockies have ever had, are competing for the last two spots in the opening day rotation. These two spots meanwhile are only open because of the unwell state of Chad Bettis and Chris Rusin.
As it stacks up right now, the team does not have a single pitcher they have brought in from Big League Free Agency. In fact, the Rox don’t even have a starter that has appeared in more than 27 games for a club outside of the Mile High City. And that’s just one pitcher, Tyler Chatwood. This means 80% of the Rockies opening day five will have made or will be making their big league debut in the Purple Pinstripes.
It takes dedication and savvy to have the type of talent come from within your organization, to develop it, or acquire the level of prospect that’s talented enough to make a big league rotation in April. This is where some credit needs to be tossed to General Manager Jeff Bridich.
The four youngsters vying for the final two spots have all had Bridich’s hands all over them. Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez both traded for while Bridich’s was at the helm, Kyle Freeland was drafted when Bridich was essentially running the MLB Entry Draft for the Rockies in his role prior to being the GM. Lastly, Antonio Senzatela was added to the 40-man by Bridich and the GM will be making a huge decision in his development when deciding if he should skip Triple-A, a decision Bridich last helped the Rockies make with Eddie Butler, who flamed out in Colorado.
The point being, there has been a clear commitment from the top down in acquiring and developing the talent necessary to home-grow pitchers. Those prospects are all banging on the clubhouse door at Coors Field so loud you would think Dinger was stomping atop the home nine’s dugout. And the manager, a pretty good pitcher himself back in the day, couldn’t be more excited.
Addressing the top of the Rockies rotation — for once in the franchise’s history — is easy. Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Chatwood will man it. The level at which this trio has already pitched at in their stints with Colorado combined with the potential each has flashed can lead anyone to believe that this rotation can be dynamite.
It’s not to say they won’t go without their struggles. Losing two starters in spring hurts and will hurt. But the depth displayed already by the organization is uncanny when compared to just the last few seasons.
This depth of actually capable, MLB-quality pitching is the game changer for Colorado. Never before have the Rockies had this caliber of talent one through five … make that one through ten … with their starting pitching. The prospects that the hardcore Rockies’ followers have been raving about for years, they’re ready for the bigs or at least close to it, and that’s why those same followers are the ones saying the Rockies are ready to make a postseason run.