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The Colorado Rockies have once again come out of gate strong. For the third year in a row, April looks like it is going to be a great month for the club.
Through nine games, the Rockies are 7-2. That record alone is impressive, but consider the fact that the club is 6-0 on the road, including a sweep of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, makes this start difficult to ignore. Could this be the year for the Rockies? Could this be the year that the club doesn’t fall back to reality in May and June?
Forgive the skepticism from Rockies fans who are holding back their excitement.
This Rockies fan base has been burned too much over the past seasons for the entire fan base to jump back on the bandwagon. There are fans who are always willing to make that jump, but others aren’t ready to throw their hearts back in without some hesitation. Nine games just isn’t a big enough sample size for the skeptics to be back on board.
Both fans have a right to their feelings. Just because a fan is willing to jump in head first doesn’t make him or her a better fan than the skeptic.
At some point, however, even the skeptical fan has to decide to give in. The way the Rockies have been playing, that time is quickly approaching.
Make no mistake, this Rockies team has their fair share of issues. The rotation is full of young pitchers who have yet to prove they can be impact big league starters for an entire season. Despite the early success, there is no way any person can suggest that there is enough tangible evidence to say that this team will continue to win in the same ways that they have been so far.
Despite the lack of proof that these young pitchers can continue to have success, there is still reason to believe that the 2015 Rockies might be a different story than in the past.
The difference for this club is simple. It isn’t in the starting pitching, it isn’t in the bullpen, it isn’t the defense, or even the bats. The difference for the 2015 Rockies is that this team has more depth than they have ever had before.
In 2014, the Rockies believers all pointed to the fact that the Rockies had to use 13 starters before the end of June. The injury bug hit them hard. What that group of people conveniently ignored, however, was the fact that it wasn’t about the number of starters, it was about the complete lack of depth that they had from the beginning. If the 13th starter had been Franklin Morales, the Rockies apologists may have had a point. Morales wasn’t option 13, he was in the starting rotation on Opening Day.
While this Rockies team isn’t fully loaded with depth, there are enough options that a few injuries might not make a season go from good to completely awful. Instead of relying on names like Franklin Morales or Yohan Flande, the Rockies actually have a very solid five in their starting rotation. With Jorge De La Rosa making his 2015 debut on Monday, the Rockies rotation is anchored by two veterans who can get through innings and get out of trouble. Both pitcher routinely win double digit games every year.
Beyond De La Rosa and Kendrick, Tyler Matzek has the stuff to compete, Jordan Lyles continues getting better, and Eddie Butler has shown that he is going to need some time to reach his potential, but is good enough to learn at the big league level right now.
Even if one of those pitchers goes down to injury, Christian Bergman is waiting in the wings to take over a spot. In addition to Bergman, the Rockies top prospect Jon Gray is going to be called upon at some point to make his debut. Gray has been heralded as the Rockies savior since the day he was drafted in 2013.
No one is going to accuse the Rockies starting pitching of being the best in the National League West, but it certainly is better than it has been in a long time. The rotation is good enough to keep the Rockies in games.
Another reason to be excited about the Rockies is because that same rotation that was just mentioned hasn’t been pitching well at all. Twice the Rockies starter has gone only four innings and the bullpen has been forced to pick them up. In both of those games the Rockies went back to the clubhouse as winners. The starters haven’t been great, but the bullpen has been good enough to bail them out. At some point, the starters will pitch better than they have and will take some of the pressure off of the bullpen.
Speaking of the bullpen, the Rockies pen suddenly looks stacked with talent. The return of Rafael Betancourt, along with the signing of John Axford and the emergence of Adam Ottavino as a dependable closer has created a solid back-end of the bullpen. Former first round pick Christian Friedrich has been an asset out of the pen as well from the left side, and Brooks Brown, who perhaps had the quietest solid season of anyone on the Rockies a year ago, is one of the first members of the bullpen to take the mound. If the starters can pitch six innings, the Rockies can keep their bullpen arms fresh enough to be very dependable.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the Rockies. They have essentially started their season the same way they did in the last four years. They certainly have some issues and were a 90-plus loss team for the past three season for a reason. However, there are plenty of reasons to also believe that this team could actually be the real deal.
It is alright to be skeptical of the Rockies, but it also isn’t a bad thing to be all-in and to truly believe in this team. The Rockies have depth that they haven’t had in the past, and they seem to be playing with a confidence that has been missing.
It is only nine games, but it isn’t too early for Rockies fans to be excited.