Consider me intrigued. David Dahl has now hit home runs in back-to-back games after hitting a 2-run shot on Friday and going deep off of Zach Davies yesterday in the Rockies’ 6 - 5 loss to the Brewers — and the competition for the third and fourth outfield spots is officially lit... (That’s what the kids are saying now, right?)
Dahl seems to be breaking out of his slump by showing off some of his power after starting spring training 0-for-15. Mike Tauchman continued his strong campaign to make the Opening Day roster on Saturday by going 2-for-3 with a stolen base, is now slashing .400/.500/.750, and Raimel Tapia kept his name in the hat by going 1-for-2 with a much needed stolen base, as well, and is slashing a respectable .304/.333/.522 this spring.
All three young outfielders are making Bud Black’s decision much more difficult. Dahl entered spring training as a candidate to be the Rockies’ fourth outfielder, but mired in a slump while Tauchman and Tapia found success, was unsure to even break camp with the club. Now, if he can keep his confidence up and return to his breakout ‘16 form that saw him hit a hearty 113 wRC+ in 267 PA’s, Dahl might again see regular playing time in ‘18 amid a group of outfielders loaded with talent who are all vying for the same two roster spots.
It was bound to happen. The injury bug has continued to bite, now striking the core of the Rockies’ bench, as Pat Valaika has been sidelined with an oblique strain and Shawn O’Malley is set for surgery to repair a fractured left metacarpal. Both utility infielders are looking to miss most or all of March, and may start the season on the DL.
This leaves a large hole in the Rockies’ lineup, as far as depth is concerned. Valaika was again set to be our secret weapon off the bench following a 2017 season that saw him hit 13 HR’s in only 182 AB’s — a strong .275 ISO. O’Malley was likely to start the year in Triple-A, but was insurance in case something like this happened to Pat, and was beginning to find his groove at the plate (5-for-15, 2 SB’s, and a .455 BABIP).
The Rockies may need to reconsider signing a free-agent who could bring some power and versatility to this lineup. Otherwise, current options on the roster include Daniel Castro, Tony Wolters as a hybrid C-INF (with Tom Murphy as primary backup catcher), or Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 PuRP) getting an opportunity to prove he’s big-league-ready much earlier than anticipated. Whatever happens, let’s hope Pat and Shawn have a quick recovery and are back helping the Rockies make a Postseason push in 2018 sooner rather than later.
In some positive injury news, Gerardo Parra is slated to return to spring training action soon and be ready to start on Opening Day. Originally reported by Nick Groke, Parra took BP with the team on Thursday and will face live pitching by Monday, with the hopes of having him back in the lineup by next weekend.
Parra rebounded in ‘17 (90 wRC+) after a dismal year in ‘16 (58 wRC+), is set to be the starting RF for the Rockies in ‘18, and will be a key to offensive production — he is currently projected to hit in the middle of the lineup. As Noah Yingling of Rox Pile points out, Parra accrued 71 RBI in 392 AB’s last year, which put him on pace for a 162-game total of 101 RBI. He certainly has the ability to be a difference-maker for the Rockies, and with Carlos González still in limbo, looks to be a strong veteran presence for a young, talented outfield in need of some confidence and leadership. See you soon, Gerardo!
It’s always nice when the national media pays some attention to the Rockies in a positive manner, and Tim Booth of the Associate Press did just that when he put together this article about Nolan Arenado and his ability to take the field (almost) every day. It’s a point of pride for Nolan, as only two other MLB players total have surpassed his 476 regular season games played over the past three years — Eric Hosmer and Joey Votto.
The workload certainly hasn’t hurt Nolan’s production. Over those three years, his wRC+, wOBA, and WAR have increased each season as he’s clubbed 120 HR and a MLB-leading 393 RBI in that span. What’s his secret? Ice baths, massage, acupuncture — sure. But also important according to Nolan? Routine Wiffle ball sessions with the fam every offseason:
“You go back to your childhood a little bit. When we were kids that’s what we did. We still love it now to this day,’’ Arenado said. ‘’It brings you back to home. That’s what we do when we’re home. It’s a routine we’ve always had. We play Wiffle ball with our boys. That’s what we do.”
You keep doing you, Nolan. We’ll just keep marveling.