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MLB Opening Day 2017: Projecting the Rockies 25-man roster

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Who will be on the Rockies Opening Day roster?

The Rockies continued to trim the number of players in major-league camp yesterday, sending down Raimel Tapia, Rafael Ynoa and Daniel Castro. With less than a week left till Opening Day, the Rockies still have to make 12 more cuts to get down to the mandatory 25 players on an active roster. Some of those moves will be easy, with players going on to the DL, but some of the decisions will be quite a bit harder.

Here are the players currently on the roster and their current status in making the Rockies Opening Day roster.

Rotation

Definites

Jon Gray
Tyler Anderson
Tyler Chatwood
Kyle Freeland

These four are locked into the rotation and appear to be set up to start the first four games in this order. Assuming that Jon Gray’s injured foot is no more serious than currently thought, this is a solid foundation for what promises to be not just a talented rotation but also a very young one.

Maybes

German Marquez
Antonio Senzatela
Harrison Musgrave

Marquez and Senzatela are locked in a struggle for the spot in the rotation that was opened when Chad Bettis had to resume treatment for his cancer. Unlike previous seasons, the Rockies have to open the season with five starters, as they begin the season with 14 straight games. Senzatela appeared to have the early lead, though Marquez’s most recent start was better. For what it’s worth, Senzatela is better lined in the rotation, though that could be easily remedied. My money has been on Senzatela ever since it became apparent that Hoffman was out of the running. Despite Marquez’s recent improvements, that hasn’t changed.

Musgrave doesn’t appear to be in the running for the rotation anymore, though Chris Rusin’s injury this spring may have opened the door for him to make the team out of the bullpen.

Bullpen

This is probably the hardest group to predict because there are a lot of options. Counting Musgrave, there are 12 pitchers fighting for what the Rockies have been saying is eight spots in the pen. Bud Black has said that he wants a closer, a setup man, a right-handed and a left-handed specialist, middle relief and two long men. If the Rockies go with eight relievers over the traditional seven, that will probably add an extra middle reliever to the mix.

Definites

Adam Ottavino
Mike Dunn
Jake McGee
Greg Holland

These four are positioned to fill those first four roles in some form. Questions about Holland’s health have been answered. His velocity and stuff have returned already, which is a really good sign for the Rockies bullpen. There may still be some early-season restriction on Holland while he continues his recovery though. McGee didn’t get to pitch much during the World Baseball Classic but in the two appearances he did have, he showed velocity that the Rockies rarely saw last year. Dunn has been light’s out this spring.

Maybes

Jairo Diaz
Jordan Lyles
Carlos Estevez
Jason Motte
Scott Oberg

One person has to be the odd man out here. If Musgrave wins one of the two long-reliever jobs, that leaves three spots to be filled by this group. Lyles appears to have the leg up on that other spot. Estevez has had a very good spring, with 10 strikeouts against only a single walk. Though his option gives the Rockies a flexible choice to start the season in Triple-A, I think he makes the team.

That leaves the final spot for either Motte, Diaz or Oberg. Diaz wasn’t expected to be ready to start the season, but he’s been progressing much quicker than expected and may actually be ready for Opening Day. Motte’s struggled this spring; however, his lack of options may win him the spot if the Rockies choose to maintain their depth by optioning both Oberg and Diaz.

DL Bound

Chad Qualls
Chris Rusin

Qualls is set to start the season on the 10-day DL. Originally, Rusin was expected to be healthy and ready to pitch before opening day. But since he has yet to pitch since his injury with less than a week left to Opening Day, I’m starting to doubt that that’s going to happen and that he will also open the season on the DL.

Catchers

Definites

Dustin Garneau
Tony Wolters

This is by far the easiest group to predict. Before Tom Murphy’s injury, the Rockies were locked into a Wolters and Murphy catching platoon. Garneau is a solid backup catcher and will hold down the fort till Murphy’s return. Wolters’s expertise with the glove is well documented, but his bat improved dramatically over the course of last year.

Heading to Triple-A

Anthony Bemboom

Bemboom had a solid spring and gives the Rockies a solid depth option in Triple-A. Garneau’s experience with the Rockies young pitching staff made it highly unlikely that Bemboom would break camp with the team even after Murphy’s injury.

DL Bound

Tom Murphy

Murphy is expected to ready to return to the Rockies around the middle of April. He’s had two phenomenal September call ups and now needs to prove that he can perform at that level for an entire year while staying healthy.

Infielders

Definites

Nolan Arenado
DJ LeMahieu
Mark Reynolds
Trevor Story

Mark Reynolds’s 2017 role with the Rockies solidified when Ian Desmond’s hand was broken. The rest of the starting infield has never been in doubt.

Maybes

Pat Valaika
Cristhian Adames
Alexi Amarista

If the Rockies go with eight relievers, that leaves only three spots on the bench for infielders and outfielders. Because of the limited spots, flexibility will be key. While Valaika has had a great spring, the fact that he’s the only one of these three to have options remaining might be the deciding factor. Amarista’s ability to play in the outfield in a pinch will probably help him as well.

DL Bound

Ian Desmond

Outfielders

Definites

Charlie Blackmon
Carlos Gonzalez
Gerardo Parra

Whether or not there was an actual competition for the starting position in left field became a moot point with David Dahl’s injury. These three are locked into the starting spots. Parra’s ability to play center field if Blackmon can’t allows the team to carry a single backup outfielder who might not be able to backup all three outfield positions.

Maybes

Jordan Patterson
Stephen Cardullo

Patterson has the leg up in the competition for that backup outfield spot by already being on the 40-man roster. Cardullo has the advantage of being right-handed, which has it’s advantages when the entire starting group is left-handed. Both can play the outifled while also backing up first base, which may allow the Rockies to carry both if they decide to bring only one backup infielder.

Heading to Triple-A

Chris Denorfia

Denorfia had an uphill battle to make the team considering how deep the Rockies outfield is. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the best of springs and will be headed to the Albuquerque outfield soon.

DL Bound

David Dahl

Dahl is still hoping to be back before May. He’ll need some positive news from his MRI this upcoming Friday to make that a reality.

★ ★ ★

While many of the Rockies 25-man roster spots are already claimed, there are still quite a few spots up for grabs with less than a week of spring training left. While the battle for the final spot in the rotation will be the biggest news, how the Rockies fill in their bullpen and their bench composition will also be stories to watch over the next six days.

My current prediction for the Rockies’ Opening Day roster is:

Jon Gray
Tyler Anderson
Tyler Chatwood
Kyle Freeland
German Marquez

Adam Ottavino
Mike Dunn
Jake McGee
Greg Holland
Harrison Musgrave
Jordan Lyles
Carlos Estevez
Scott Oberg

Dustin Garneau
Tony Wolters
Nolan Arenado
DJ LeMahieu
Mark Reynolds
Trevor Story
Cristhian Adames
Alexi Amarista
Charlie Blackmon
Carlos Gonzalez
Gerardo Parra
Jordan Patterson