Scottsdale, Ariz — Perhaps the largest looming question for the 2017 Colorado Rockies comes from the fact that they are set to begin the season with four out of their five rotation starters having less than two full seasons of experience.
Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson each pitched in their rookie campaigns a year ago and manager Bud Black says the rest of the rotation (apart from Tyler Chatwood) is going to be filled by two from the group of Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela. All are rookies and the latter two have yet to make their MLB debut.
But, he says, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete for a postseason spot, even in the tough NL West.
When BSN Denver asked this exact question, he responded, “Why not? Yes. Talent.” Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
“If they perform like they’re capable,” he says. “But they’re young, no doubt about it. For me, there’s a little bit of excitement in that. Young guys trying to get it done. Rookies and to use your term sophomores. Going back to 1984 we [Black’s Kansas City Royals] had some freshman and sophomores, right? Going back to Saberhagen … Danny Jackson … Mark Gubicza. I think I was maybe a senior. They performed and got us to the playoffs.”
So why wouldn’t Black believe that his current crop of youngsters could get the job done? In fact, he argues, you really don’t have to reach that far back to find precedent for young and inexperienced pitching staffs finding success even deep into the playoffs.
“The Mets a couple of years ago, right? How about the Mets? Syndergaard, Matz, DeGrom, younger fellas. Lincecum was a young pitcher early with the Giants … it’s sort of exciting. These guys got talent. And we’re going to find out because they’re getting opportunities.”
We caught up with both Hoffman and Gray this week and will have those reports for you soon, but both were brimming with confidence, practically chomping at the bit for the season to begin so that can start proving to the world that Coors Field is no unconquerable foe.
Where some see reason to fear that an incredibly talented Rockies team could be undone by a starting staff still searching for its stride, Black sees only excitement, opportunity, and potential. “These guys don’t scare off, so we’ll see. It’s sort of fun, right?”
For those who like the feeling that anything could happen, it’s sorta fun, indeed.