As Spring Training nears, and the regular season grows ever closer, we’re in prime baseball lists season. This time, Mike Petriello brings us his eleven players poised to have breakout seasons in 2019—the Max Muncys and Chris Taylors, if you will. I wouldn’t be bringing this up if there wasn’t a player from the Rockies involved, and Scott Oberg falls in at number 7 for Mike.
It’s nice to see Oberg get his due after a tremendous season last year. As Mike mentions, Scott might not be the biggest name out of the Rockies bullpen, but he is arguably the best arm. In 2018, he increased his strikeout rate, decreased his walk rate, and was Bud Black’s most reliable weapon out of the pen down the stretch—which is why he closed out the Wild Card game and struck out four straight Cubs to send the Rockies to the NLDS. That slider was alive:
What a performance; it still gives me goosebumps. Needless to say, Oberg will be a prime candidate to get more national attention this season. He is likely to be used in an eighth inning role setting up Wade Davis, but if Davis continues to underperform, look for Scotty to emerge as a new closer candidate for Bud in the near future.
Drew Creasman knows its easy to get lost in thought about the upcoming Rockies season—which rookies will stand out, will Daniel Murphy be a threat in the batter’s box, will we sufficiently replace the value lost by former Rockies signing elsewhere, etc.—but the real road to the Postseason still starts with the starting rotation. Drew argues there are three pitchers in particular who need to keep pace with their 2018 season, or even improve upon it, if the Rockies hope to strike fear into opponents coming to Coors Field.
Speaking of improving the offense, though, Thomas Harding writes about Jeff Bridich’s big offseason acquisition, Daniel Murphy, and what he will bring to the table for the Rockies lineup—especially in the Postseason. In the team’s four playoff games last year, batters hit for a less-than-stellar .174 average. Yikes.
Daniel Murphy brings a lot of playoff experience with him to Colorado—something that is lacking currently—in which he has hit .309 with 8 HR and 19 RBI for a very good .986 OPS. In other words, the bright lights and big stage certainly don’t bother him. Murphy said in December he decided to sign with the Rockies because he saw them as a true World Series contender. If he can bring that hot Postseason bat to Coors Field, it could definitely be true.
Kyle Newman of the Denver Post gets in on the Spring Training action with this Cactus League preview for the Rockies and their Arizona-bound competitors. Kyle talks NL West and wonders if the D-backs will find success after losing so many of their big stars, how the Dodgers will come together to defend their title, and most importantly, mentions the Rockies having an open-competition for the starting second base job.
Kyle also discusses my favorite part of Spring Training—all the prospects. In the Cactus League we’ll see up-and-coming names like Fernando Tatis Jr., Nick Senzel, and of course, Brendan Rodgers. Will Rodgers be able to put together an audition to land himself on the big league roster, much like Trevor Story in 2016? It will be exciting to find out!
On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced the disabled list (DL) will be renamed the injured list (IL) beginning in the 2019 season. MLB explained the decision was made because the word disabled “falsely conflates disabilities with injuries and an inability to participate in sports,” according to Jeff Passan, thanks largely to advocacy groups for the disabled, such as the Link 20 Network.
Yesterday, SB Nation’s own Hayden Audette wrote this awesome piece for Twinkie Town and gave his personal thoughts on the issue as an athlete who uses a wheelchair. I won’t try to over-summarize his words—they’re fantastic and you should really give it a read—but, I will say that he nails the true reasoning for this language shift, and it’s not political correctness. Much to the chagrin of many “old schoolers,” like John Schmoltz, baseball is an adaptable game to be embraced for its resilience and audacity to enhance itself, where change doesn’t have to be disrespectful or feared.