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Is it time to get excited about the Colorado Rockies yet?
After a 4-1 victory in San Francisco, one thing is clear; even if these Rockies don’t contend for the playoffs, they certainly are a fun team to watch.
Skip ahead to the bottom of the 8th inning. After Rafael Betancourt uncharacteristically gave up a walk after a base hit, the Giants suddenly had the tying run at the plate with no one out. Betancourt got Gregor Blanco to pop a ball down the left field line near the Giants bullpen. Nolan Arenado went to a full sprint after the ball. With the tarp against the wall, Arenado had no chance. Somehow, after flipping over and rolling over the tarp and nearly into the stands, Arenado suddenly had the ball and made the out.
Instead of no one out and two on, Arenado gave Betancourt and out and a chance to reclaim the inning. After a sacrifice fly to right field, Betancourt was able to get out of the inning and there was no chance the Rockies were going to lose. A catch like Arenado’s is a statement play. It says that the team isn’t going to lose that day.
It may be hyperbole. It may be a statement made in the moment, but the catch that Arenado made should be a part of every highlight reel for years to come. It should be the catch of the year, even with just nine days of the season in the books. The play may have earned Arenado his third Gold Glove before the middle of April.
The catch will steal the highlight shows, but something special is going on in the Rockies clubhouse. There is still plenty of room for skepticism, and most fans will be quick to point out that the Rockies have started out hot in each of the past three seasons. The difference this year, however, is hard to ignore. The Rockies bullpen, traditionally a weakness for this team, doesn’t just look solid, it looks like it was cleverly assembled and built to be a machine.
Through eight games, the Rockies pen has been phenomenal. With the exception of LaTroy Hawkins, the relievers have given up a total of three runs, one of which was unearned. They aren’t just picking up in the 7th or 8th inning either. Christian Bergman was only able to get through four innings on Tuesday. On Friday, Tyler Matzek only went four innings. The bullpen has been successful early and often.
There is no denying that the Rockies have two superstars in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. However, the two guys who are the most fun to watch on the team are Arenado and Corey Dickerson. Both young players are becoming stars in their own right.
Dickerson went 3-for-4 on Tuesday night, including a 9th inning leadoff triple that got the run back that the Rockies had given up in the previous inning. Arenado made the catch that everyone will be talking about, but also did his job at the plate. The third baseman went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
There are still plenty of questions that the Rockies will have to answer over the course of a six month season. The starting rotation is full of young, unproven pitchers who will need to remain healthy and keep their composure. The reinforcements in the minor leagues have talent, but it isn’t easy to contribute as a rookie. There are plenty of reasons for fans to remain skeptical.
The reality is, however, this team is fun to watch. Every aspect of this team is at least compelling. Even the starting pitching, which has questions surrounding it, is worth paying attention to and hoping for the best.
The Rockies might be the most interesting team in baseball that has had zero chance of competing over the past three years.