Baseball on the horizon! It's been a long offseason and Rockies fans are ready to get back into the swing of things. Here are ten of many, many reasons you should be pumped for the 2015 season.
1. The Division
After a wildly thrilling World Series win for the Giants, a brazen-faced offseason for the Padres and the Dodgers flashing their checkbooks like only the Dodgers can, the NL West is poised to be one of the most, if not the most, interesting divisions in baseball. What this means for the Rockies is a lot of tough competition, but also the inevitable home runs off guys like Kershaw, Bumgarner, Shields, etc. They're just that much more satisfying. New faces in the neighborhood and tons of good baseball—it’s all very exciting.
2. The Lineup
Speed, smarts, and so much power. I'll just leave this here...
3. Young Guns
The Rockies love the veteran presence guys like Jorge De La Rosa and Kyle Kendrick bring to this year’s starting rotation, but look out for the up and comers! Tyler Matzek and Jordan Lyles, at just 24 years old (the two share an October birthday), have the momentum to do big things in 2015. Matzek is coming off of an impressive rookie campaign as one of the most reliable pitchers in the organization. Tyler averaged over six innings per start—going the distance on September 5 for his first career complete game shutout—and gave up zero unearned runs from the time of his call up in mid-June. Jordan Lyles made use of his two month stint on the disabled list by putting a new spin on his changeup, and so far the results have been pleasing. Lyles is rolling this spring with an ERA currently sitting at 0.86 in his six starts. Full seasons from Matzek and Lyles will be huge on their own, but with highly anticipated prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler looking to make an impact this year, and late season boosts from a healthy Tyler Chatwood and possibly Tyler Anderson, this could very well be the best young pitching staff the team has ever seen.
4.Best Seat in the House
Can’t make it down to 20th and Blake? Don’t fret! ROOT SPORTS and their fancy camera work are here to make at-home viewing so much cooler in 2015. From ROOT SPORTS:
Enhancing broadcasts from Coors Field this season will be the addition of a 4K zoom function to each ‘SuperMo’ super slow motion camera. In 2014, ROOT SPORTS was one of the first sports networks to employ the Grass Valley 6x Super Slow Motion system, and the new zoom feature will provide an ultra-clear look of key plays. Further, this winter the network relocated the centerfield camera position to a dead-center location, allowing for an improved view of pitch movement and the strike zone
Last year the Rockies were among the teams that employed the fewest number of shifts during a season where much of baseball seemed to take the idea and run with it. This spring, we’ve already seen the Rockies put on more shifts than they did in all of 2014. It will be interesting to see how the strategy translates over the course of the season. Obviously, this is not an infield that allows much to get through; but if the repositioning can cut down on line drives and bloop singles into the monstrous Coors Field middle ground, the Rockies can limit the small-ball game of opposing teams.
6. Spilly with the Call
Big news from ROOT SPORTS coming into this season: Former Rockie and good friend of the Row, Ryan Spilborghs, will be seeing time in the broadcast booth alongside Drew Goodman. Spilly’s unique perspective and first-hand understanding of the organization can only mean great things for game coverage. Forever a fan favorite, that guy.
7. On the Farm
The depth in the Rockies organization is at an all-time high, with tons of major league potential from Grand Junction to Albuquerque and every stop in between—especially in between! If you haven’t yet given Drew Creasman’s piece on last year’s Asheville Tourists team a read, you can here. Look for another big year from Rockies’ minor leaguers, and let your personal fandom blossom even before they make it to the bigs. Hint: Things ought to be pretty nuts in Modesto.
8. LaTroy's Last Stand
After 20 years in the big leagues, Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins has announced that he’ll be hanging up his spikes come season’s close. At 42, Hawkins is the oldest active player in MLB, racking up over 1,420 innings of work to date. His final campaign may not generate the national media attention that Derek Jeter’s final season did, but having played for ten different teams—six of which the Rockies will see at some point this summer—there will undoubtedly be plenty heart warming nods of appreciation to the veteran. Rockies fans share so many fond memories with Hawk, from the magic of the 2007 championship run to his 1,000th major league appearance seven years later. Enjoy this last season alongside one of the good ones. A player like LaTroy doesn’t come around often.
9. Who's on First
After a frustrating season behind the plate for Wilin Rosario, the Rockies signed free agent catcher Nick Hundley to a two-year deal back in January. The Rockies then announced that, in order to keep his bat in the lineup, Rosario would be adding first base to his repertoire. This idea of platooning Rosario and Justin Morneau isn’t about alleviating a struggling Morneau; he’s good. Like, reigning NL batting champ good. Think of it instead as a blueprint for salivation-worthy power from the middle of the lineup. The figures:
- Justin Morneau has a career .896 OPS against right-handed pitchers, putting up 178 home runs and 639 RBIs off of righties in 12 seasons. His .341 average vs RHP last season demonstrated that he’s aging very well.
- Wilin Rosario, on the other hand, annihilates left-handed pitching. His career 1.009 OPS and .328/.361/.647 slash line speak for themselves. Loudly.
The platoon won’t be 1-to-1. Justin Morneau will still see the majority of the playing time, but whichever way you flip it, the result is moonshots.
10. (in)Field of Dreams
Better than your fantasy team.