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The race to the postseason starts now for the Rockies

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Rockies news and links for March 8, 2018

The postseason, they hope, starts now for the Rockies. Bud Black just needs to get them off the roller coaster. | The Denver Post
You all know the story by now. The 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the Colorado Rockies with an 11-8 loss to the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Wild Card Game. Signs of overcompensation were evident for the Rockies in the month of August, when the team went through a 4-11 stretch, plunging them out of a first-place role that they held in the National League West for much of the season.

Heading into Spring Training 2018, the Rockies are on a quest to return to the postseason for a consecutive year for the first time in franchise history. Rockies Manager Bud Black is doing his best to get the winning mentality started before the regular season even begins. Black is preaching the gospel of having the same mentality for Spring Training games as one would for an October postseason contest. “There should be a high-level of intensity every game you play,” Black says.

A 2017 season that began with Rockies players having a loose and fun time on the field turned into a collection of individuals overcompensating and pressing to uphold the production they had set as a precedent for themselves. Maintaining a consistent style of play is key for successful teams, according to Black, a theory he came up with during his time as pitching coach under Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia.

Colorado Rockies: Thoughts on a bullpen cart in Denver | Rox Pile
Now, to the big story of the day: bullpen carts! The Arizona Diamondbacks announced this week that they will be bringing back bullpen carts for the 2018 season. Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry offers some ideas for what shape a Colorado bullpen cart might take, and features quotes from Rockies relievers Adam Ottavino and Mike Dunn with their thoughts on the idea.

Colorado Rockies: Is the bullpen being over-hyped? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Olivia Greene questions whether the offseason bullpen additions for the Rockies have been overhyped. Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and the re-signed Jake McGee have represented the largest investments of the offseason for the Rockies, but Greene argues that the bullpen was already an area of strength. It is true that Chris Rusin, Ottavino, and Dunn are already established members of the relief corps, with Davis and Shaw acting as replacements for Greg Holland and Pat Neshek from a year ago.

Colorado Rockies: What Jeff Hoffman’s injury means for him | Rox Pile
It seemed likely that Jeff Hoffman would be on the outside looking in of a crowded starting rotation picture for the Rockies in 2018. With Hoffman now on the shelf for at least the next week with a shoulder injury, Hoffman earning a spot on the MLB roster to start the season looks even less likely.

Kyle Freeland is moving ‘onward and upward’ following his storybook rookie season | Mile High Sports
It was a memorable rookie season for Kyle Freeland, as the Denver native made his major league debut in front of a hometown Colorado crowd. Freeland is part of a young staff that is looking to make continuing strides in 2018. Even though it was Jon Gray who got the start in the Wild Card Game, Freeland notes that it was a learning experience for everyone in the Rockies’ clubhouse.

Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta reportedly OK after injury scare | Rox Pile
In Spring Training 2017, a hit-by-pitch resulted in a fractured hand for Ian Desmond. Naturally, there was some concern after Chris Iannetta was hit in the hand by a pitch thrown by Clayton Blackburn of the Texas Rangers in the third inning during Wednesday’s Cactus League game. Fortunately, Iannetta remained in the game to run the bases for the rest of the inning, and Black says he has not heard any negative news.

Colorado Rockies: Is Ian Desmond a cause for concern? | Rox Pile
Spring Training records and statistics ultimately mean very little, but after a rough start to his Rockies career in 2017, Desmond could have had a more promising start to the spring in 2018. Desmond is currently hitting .063/.063/.063 (1 single in 16 at-bats, with 5 strikeouts) in Cactus League action. As Rox Pile’s Aaron Hurt writes, the Rockies need a return on investment from Desmond soon.

If not Charlie Blackmon, who should bat leadoff for the Rockies? | Mile High Sports
With Charlie Blackmon moving into the 3rd spot in the lineup, Black has experimented with different players in the leadoff role. Wednesday’s game saw Desmond leading off the game, while David Dahl and Raimel Tapia have also seen time batting first. Casey Light of Mile High Sports makes a case for Gerardo Parra (when healthy) to bat leadoff, and explores strikeout-to-walk ratios for different plausible Rockies leadoff hitters.

Spring Training recap
The Rockies improved their record to 5-7 on the Spring with a 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Antonio Senzatela had a solid four innings of work, allowing only one run a solo home run by Joey Gallo. Senzatela struck out four batters and walked none, as he gained his second win of the Spring. Davis gave up two runs on two hits in his inning of action, while Ottavino continued his scoreless Spring, allowing only a walk and two strikeouts in an inning. Peter Lambert (PuRP No. 4) saw 1 2/3 innings of work on Wednesday, allowing a run on three hits, with one walk and two strikeouts. Scott Oberg pitched around a walk to acquire the save.

On offense, there were several regulars in the lineup after Tuesday night’s youth showcase. In Wednesday’s action, Blackmon hit his second home run of the Spring, DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-3 with a double, and Trevor Story went 2-for-3 with a double and a triple. Nolan Arenado also picked up 2 singles in his 3 trips to the plate.