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Jordan Lyles pitches Colorado Rockies to victory behind Corey Dickerson's blast

David Martin Avatar
April 24, 2015


The Colorado Rockies are always surrounded by “if’s.”

Every year national baseball pundits talk about the Rockies with a big question mark on top of how they will perform. It always comes down to “if.” If Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez stay healthy, if the offense can hit away from Coors Field, if some of their young prospects bloom, if they avoid injuries in their starting rotation. There are always “if’s” with the Colorado Rockies.

Besides the obvious injury questions with Tulo and CarGo, the Rockies big “if” in 2015 is their starting pitching. Anchored by Jorge De La Rosa, the Rockies have a rotation that boasts no one with any resounding success at the big league level. Kyle Kendrick has had a good career, but no one is afraid of facing him and the three starters behind De La Rosa and Kendrick are trying to establish themselves as big league pitchers.

No one doubts the talent. Tyler Matzek was a first-round pick, 11th overall, in 2009 out of high school. His talent is through the roof. Lyles made his big league debut just after turning 20-years-old. It takes an immense amount of talent to accomplish that feat. Eddie Butler has big time stuff. He throws in the mid-90’s and has a ton of movement on all of his pitches. All three guys were first round (or supplemental first round) picks for a reason.

With De La Rosa, who wins double digit games every year, and Kendrick being serviceable, the Rockies will have to lean on the other three to get them through the year successfully. The talent is certainly there, but they will have to prove that they belong.

Lyles did just that on Thursday afternoon. The righty delivered an outing that the Rockies needed, giving the bullpen a two-day stretch where they didn’t need to be taxed. Lyles went 6-2/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits. He struck out four and walked two. It was a great outing, but it was one that the Rockies offense needed every bit of to stay in the game.

The outing was impressive, not because the Rockies starters have struggled to get deep into games so often, but because Lyles wasn’t given any wiggle room. Sometimes a pitcher will have a great outing, but his offense may have spotted him five or six early runs. Those starts are still good, but it is easy for pitcher to sit back and relax, knowing he’s got some room to work with. When a pitcher is in the heat of a battle with the opponents starter, it really becomes impressive.

Lyles threw 96 pitches, 52 for strikes. That ratio isn’t exactly where the team would like to see it, but he got the job done. He is answering the questions that people around baseball have always wondered about him. He is completing some of the “if’s.”

Another question that the baseball world often wonders about for the Rockies is if Tulo and CarGo will get support. For those paying attention, the spotlight is being forced upon two different guys. In less than 24 hours, Corey Dickerson hit three home runs. One of them tied the game, the other two gave the Rockies the lead. His 5th inning shot on Thursday was the difference in the 2-1 game.

Dickerson’s approach at the plate is so unique. He doesn’t have a gorgeous left-handed swing. He has a strong upper-cut that looks like he is trying to hit the ball out of the park every time. However, unlike true power hitters, Dickerson isn’t just looking for a fastball on the right part of the plate. He swings at nearly everything, but he hits nearly everything. Dickerson went from being a decent player that people thought would be a flash-in-the-pan to being a guy who really has a chance to be a star.

Along with Dickerson is a guy the Rockies certainly didn’t miss on. Nolan Arenado has turned out to be every bit of the player that the Rockies thought he would be when they risked a 2nd round pick for him, despite his commitment to Arizona State. The third baseman has been nothing short of phenomenal. It might not be appropriate to say that he is having a breakout season. He already owns two Gold Gloves. However, he has yet to reach his potential at the plate. So far in the early-going, it looks like this might be the year.

The third baseman notched two more hits on Thursday, extending his batting average to .340. Almost shockingly, Arenado didn’t hit a double, which seems to happen on a daily basis in 2015. His opposite field approach has strengthened his game at the plate. He is truly turning into an all-around weapon for the Rockies.

There are plenty of “if’s” surrounding this Rockies team, but a few of those “if’s” seem to be coming true right before Rockies fan’s eyes. If the rest of the young talent can produce even close to as well as Dickerson, Arenado and Lyles have produced for the Rockies, 2015 could be a gigantic step in the right direction for this club.

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