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Colorado Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood still comes with unanswered questions

Rockeis news and links for Monday March 28, 2016

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Chatwood Looks Strong In Return From Tommy John - TKB

Tyler Chatwood has looked impressive this spring. Nick Stephens focuses on Chatwood proving that he's healthy in his return from his second Tommy John surgery. He looks good so far, though Chatwood doesn't just have to return physically. He also has some mental hurdles to overcome as he's eased into pitching every five days.

There are other questions. While this is not a consensus opinion, Chatwood has still yet to demonstrate what kind of a pitcher he is. In 2013, he had a sparkling 3.15 ERA. Not only that, but it went along with a 3.66 FIP. Those figures come with some caveats that should cause us to wonder whether or not we should expect Chatwood to repeat that performance.

First, Chatwood did it in 111 innings pitched and 20 starts. In other words, it was about two-thirds of a full season. Second, Chatwood's home run to fly ball ratio was 6.7 percent that season. In 2015, only four of 132 pitchers who threw at least 110 innings had a HR/FB that low. Chatwood is unlikely to repeat this homer suppressing performance. Third, even in 2013 Chatwood had a troublingly low strikeout rate, 5.34 per nine innings. He gave up a lot of contact, but because most of the contact was on the ground, it worked. But then again, he also had a 58 percent ground ball rate that, in 2015, would have ranked fifth best in all of baseball. I'm not convinced he'll be able to repeat that. And finally, Chatwood not only gives up a lot of contact, but he hasn't exhibited the command to at least mitigate baserunners by not walking batters. In 2013, even in a great partial year, he walked 3.31 batters per nine innings.

Heading into 2014, I was really curious to see how Chatwood would do over a full season given all of these questions. Tommy John surgery delayed the answer to the 2016 season. Let's see.

Baseball Prospectus | Winter Is Leaving: Colorado Rockies

If you're a regular reader of Purple Row, you're not necessarily the intended audience of this season preview. The motivating question is, "why pay attention to the Rockies in 2016?" Nolan Arenado is the answer. While not ignoring his offense, R.J. Anderson spends most of the time lauding his defense. He categorizes a selection of plays Arenado has made at third that exemplify the skills of other third baseman. There are Beltre- and Machado-esque plays. In other words, Arenado is a little bit of all of the best defensive third baseman wrapped into an instinctually driven ball of talent.

So to answer the question, why should non-Rockies fans pay attention to the team in 2016? "Because Arenado is one of the best players in baseball. Someone who can make all the plays at the hot corner, then turn around and lead the league in home runs. This is going to be his age-25 season; don't miss it."

Baseball Prospectus prospect chat, Rockies and Brewers — Baseball Prospectus

Click that link to submit questions for Adam McInturff from Baseball Prospectus; he's been watching Rockies prospects all month in Arizona and is answering questions about the organization's minor leaguers in a live chat beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET today, though you can submit your questions early (and you should!).

Trevor Story rockets into starting shortstop spot for Rockies - The Denver Post

Nick Groke discusses Trevor Story's excellent spring training. He writes that Story "probably will be a starter" when the Rockies open against the Diamondbacks on April 4. I agree. Given the confidence with which the ROOT and KOA broadcasters, and even some opposing team broadcasters, discuss Story as the team's Opening Day shortstop, I think it's a more or less finalized but not yet public decision. In any case, we'll find out soon.