First, the Rockies designated Jason Motte for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Stephen Cardullo, who has made the cut as a right-handed bench bat. The Rockies also added starting pitcher Kyle Freeland to the roster, creating room for him by designating reliever Miguel Castro for assignment.
The team also reassigned Chris Denorfia to minor league camp and optioned Pat Valaika to Triple-A, essentially leaving 25 players in major league camp who are not expected to start the season unavailable due to injury.
Unlike previous years, when the Rockies could begin the season with only four starters because of scheduled off days, the club will start the season with 14 straight games and will need a full five-man rotation from the beginning. With the team’s decision to go with an eight-man bullpen, it will be forced to carry only four position players on the bench.
Here’s how the roster breaks down by position:
Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela
Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn, Jake McGee, Greg Holland, Scott Oberg, Jordan Lyles, Carlos Estévez, German Márquez
Tony Wolters, Dustin Garneau
Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, Mark Reynolds, Trevor Story, Cristhian Adames, Alexi Amarista
Charlie Blackmon, Carlos González, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Cardullo
The Rockies will start the season with seven players on the disabled list. Jairo Díaz, Chris Rusin, Chad Qualls, Tom Murphy, Ian Desmond, and David Dahl will be placed on the 10-day DL and Chad Bettis was already placed on the 60-day DL earlier this spring to make space for Mark Reynolds.
Jon Gray will start Opening Day against the Milwaukee Brewers, as was previously announced on Thursday. Anderson and Chatwood will start the second and third games, respectively, and Senzatela will make his major league debut in the series finale. Freeland, the Colorado native, will make his big league debut in the home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The most exciting pitching matchup of the first week will be Saturday when the Rockies send Jon Gray to the mound for his second start of the season against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
German Marquez was in the competition for one of those starting spots, but with Senzatela likely in the fifth spot, Marquez will instead settle for a long reliever role in the bullpen. With Rusin expected back soon, it will be interesting to see how long Marquez’s role in the bullpen will last.
The Rockies’ lineup for Opening Day has not yet been announced, but it is expected to look something like this:
Charlie Blackmon - CF
DJ LeMahieu - 2B
Carlos Gonzalez - RF
Nolan Arenado - 3B
Trevor Story - SS
Gerardo Parra - LF
Mark Reynolds - 1B
Tony Wolters - C
Jon Gray - SP
Outside of the impact of the many injuries, there haven’t been any other changes to the Rockies expected lineup.
The bench has a surprise though, as Cardullo forced his way into the picture after being released this past offseason and re-signed to a minor league contract. Cardullo combined a hot spring with the Rockies’ need for a right-handed outfielder on the bench to come out on top in the competition for that roster spot.