St. Louis Cardinals against the National League: Colorado Rockies
By Landon Clapp
The Colorado Rockies finished with just 68 wins in 2015 en route to their fifth straight losing season. There doesn’t appear to be any immediate relief coming in Denver, either. The St. Louis Cardinals play the Rockies six times in 2016.
2015 Record: 68-94
Notable Departures: 1B Justin Morneau, SP Kyle Kendrick, RP John Axford, 1B Wilin Rosario, LF Corey Dickerson
Notable Newcomers: 1B Mark Reynolds, RP Jason Motte, OF Gerardo Parra, RP Chad Qualls
Against St. Louis in 2016: 3 games May 17-19 @STL, 3 games September 19-21 @COL
Our “St. Louis Cardinals against the National League” series shifts its focus to the western half of the United States as I continue to break down the Cardinals’ National League foes in 2016. This breakdown of my (now) hometown Rockies kicks off the NL West portion of the series.
Last July, Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich made the most difficult decision he has had to make since taking over their front office in October 2014. He decided the time was right to unload the organization’s Golden Boy, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki.
Tulowitzki had spent his entire ten-year career in the Mile High City, where he was a five-time All Star playing for mostly lackluster Rockies teams.
In exchange, the Rockies received the very talented Jose Reyes, as well as three young pitchers that are now members of the team’s Top 30 Prospects list. Jeff Hoffman (4), Miguel Castro (10), and Jesus Tinoco (19) all came over from Toronto in the Tulowitzki deal, and those three make up a majority of the young pitching talent in the Colorado system.
It is my belief that the Rockies must develop some sort of a respectable pitching staff. The challenge in this, however, is that Denver, Colorado is probably the least desirable destination for pitching talent in baseball. The thin air from the altitude wreaks havoc on a pitcher’s ERA. Even with 420 feet of acreage in Center Field, Coors Field is still easily the most hitter-friendly park in baseball.
Not surprisingly, the Rockies finished dead last in baseball in both team ERA (5.04) and runs allowed (844) last season. Rockies pitchers surrendered 183 home runs in 2015, good for third-worst in baseball.
The Rockies starting pitchers had an average ERA near 5.00, and it didn’t get much better once they hit the bullpen. No reliever who threw more than 35 innings in 2015 had an ERA below 4.00. Sure, you can plan on scoring a ton of runs playing in Denver, but you have to have some sort of plan for keeping the other team from doing so.
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As I see it, the Rockies aren’t going anywhere without some kind of significant improvement from their entire pitching staff. Yes, they have to expect to give up a few runs playing 81 times in Denver every year. But no offense can be expected to overcome a pitching staff that allows more than five runs per ball game.
But, if they cannot lure free agent pitching talent in Colorado, how the heck are they supposed to put together a quality staff?
I think that it is absolutely vital that they develop at least one, if not two of those young pitching talents they received from the Tulowitzki trade into legitimate Major League talents. That needs to happen quickly, too.
If the Rockies are out of things come July, I think they would be best served shipping off talents like Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and perhaps even Jose Reyes in search of even more pitching talent.
Run prevention has made waves in terms of producing playoff berths around baseball recently, and the concept remains the same whether you are playing at Coors Field or Busch Stadium. When you give up fewer runs, you give your team more opportunities to win.
Anywho, the Cardinals will play the Rockies six times this year. In 2015, the Redbirds went 4-3 against Colorado and were actually outscored 33-31 in those seven games.
I am very excited to say that I have locked down tickets behind the Cardinal dugout for all three games at Coors Field in September. I hope that I am watching our Redbirds work towards locking down another NL Central title, and I can’t wait to see how many fellow Cardinal fans there are in the Denver area.
Next: St. Louis Cardinals against the National League: New York Mets
I am going to predict that the Cardinals win two of three in St. Louis. Then, in the middle of a playoff push, the Cardinals will roll into Denver and sweep the home team to win the season series 5-1. That would make this writer one happy fella.