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Saturday Rockpile: It can be about the pitching

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It seems like it has been said the past couple of years, but this pitching staff could make the Rockies contenders in 2015.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Kilpatrick recently wrote how this year's Rockies could win if healthy, and others, including Jay Tymkovich, have asked if the new penciled in fifth starter will be more like Jason Marquis or Jeremy Guthrie.  For me, this team is coming together nicely and the pitching is going to give them a chance to be special.  Here is why.

This team has five starting pitchers that have proven they can pitch at the major league level.  I'm not sure that the team has been able to say that going into spring training in awhile.  The only one that has not done it for multiple years yet is Tyler Matzek.  Another point in their favor is that each of these pitchers has had a strong, if not their strongest, season within the last three years.

For example, the last two seasons have been two of Jorge De La Rosa's three best.  Jhoulys Chacin did not have a good 2014 due to injury, but his 2013 is the reason that many think that he can still be a top of the rotation pitcher for the Colorado Rockies.  The 24-year old Jordan Lyles has already started 87 games in his young career, getting better each season and posting his first positive WAR season last year.  Newcomer Kyle Kendrick has been solid over the past five years, averaging over 26 starts a season and 10 wins, and had perhaps his best season as a starter three years ago.  Finally, even if Tyler Matzek does not improve on his rookie campaign, he is a postive force on the mound for the Rockies.

So, looking to the recent past, this is where the Rockies starting five pitching staff could go in 2015:

Jorge De La Rosa(2013) 16 6 3.49 3.76 4.3
Jhoulys Chacin(2013) 14 10 3.47 3.47 5.8
Jordan Lyles(2014+10 games) 10 6 4.33 4.22 1.5
Tyler Matzek(2014+10 games) 9 15 4.05 3.78 2.8
Kyle Kendrick(2012) 11 12 3.90 4.33 1.5

I put the wins/losses up there as anecdotal and to tell this story.  This projection has 60 wins from the top five starters (assuming they all last the entire season, which isn't likely).  The Rockies haven't gotten even 50 wins from all of their starting pitchers in any of the last three seasons.  The top five starters haven't gotten 50 wins since 2010 and the last time the team had 60 wins from their top five hurlers was in 2009, when all five were over ten wins and three of the starters topped 15 wins.

So is it likely that all five starters stay healthy the entire season and equal their top output from the last three years? No. But while one or more might get hurt and Jhoulys will probably be slightly down, the two young arms are likely to improve and the team has some quality depth to help out the top five.  David Hale is an upgrade to Franklin Morales, Tyler Chatwood may be available sometime in the season, and young players like Chad Bettis and Christian Bergman are likely to get better.  On top of that, there are two to three top flight prospects that could break through at some point.

I am not predicting that the five starters will have the stats that I put in the chart above.  However, the fact that the team has a starting cast that has the potential for 16 WAR is enough to make me optimistic about the season to come.  There are a lot of ifs, but if the pitching staff can meet its potential and the stars of the lineup do their job, the Rockies could make the summer interesting.

On to the news on a very slow Saturday:

Rockies get ready to migrate South on truck day -

As Bryan reported yesterday, it is moving day for the Colorado Rockies.  Players got their gear and personal belongings to the team facilities for the haul down to spring training.  After Jeremy Guthrie's famous accident, I am a little concerned that there are bicycles in the mix.

Is Kendrick an upgrade? -

Ryan Hammon looks at Kendrick's projected numbers versus Yohan Flande and other young Rockies' pitchers.  To his question though, I say undoubtedly yes!  I don't care of the forecasters show Flande and Kendrick's future to be about the same.  I have watched them both pitch and feel a lot more comfortable giving Kyle the ball 25-30 games in 2015.

What does Coors field do to pitch selection? -

Quite the interesting article that at the end of the day says that pitchers don't change their pitches much at Coors Field and that more breaking balls are left up in the zone which probably explains the better batting numbers in Denver.

That is all for now, have a good weekend.