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Major rule changes and Brendan Rodgers loom over the Rockies in 2019

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Rockies news and links for Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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Rosenthal: Three-batter requirement for all pitchers, universal DH part of proposals that could bring big change to baseball | The Athletic ($)

On Tuesday night, Ken Rosenthal reported major rule changes are being considered by baseball officials and the MLBPA for the 2019 season, including a three-batters-faced minimum for relief pitchers and the long debated universal DH. The days of the LOOGY and silver slugging pitchers—like Madison Bumgarner, Carlos Zambrano, and even German Marquez—appear to be numbered.

What does this mean for the Rockies? As far as making relief pitchers face a minimum of three batters, well, not much. The bullpen under Bud Black has not really had any “specialists” of any kind. In fact, in 2018, every single left-handed RP who came out of the Rockies bullpen (minimum 10 IP) averaged over four batters faced per inning pitched. In 2017, the lowest average for lefty RP’s was Jake McGee with a 3.99 BF/IP.

The universal DH is obviously another story. This new rule would potentially benefit the Rockies more than any other team (Coors), and give Bud Black an immense amount of flexibility for his lineups. Newly acquired Daniel Murphy would make a prime candidate to DH, with Ryan McMahon and Ian Desmond capable of handling 1B, and giving more 2B opportunities to Garrett Hampson or even Brendan Rodgers. Even the defensively deficited Charlie Blackmon could thrive from more DH opportunities, giving his aging legs a break while younger players such as David Dahl and Raimel Tapia roam the outfield.

Still, nothing at this point has been decided, but it’s interesting to see the speed in which that could change. In Rosenthal’s article, even Manfred is quoted that he thinks, “the most likely outcome at this point remains status quo.” If it isn’t this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these changes—or something similar—occur in 2020. Manfred wants to make the game more exciting, and both of these rules would certainly benefit the offensive side of the ball.

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2019 Prospect Projections: NL West rookies | MiLB.com

In the final installment of Sam Dykstra’s 2019 Prospect Projections, Brendan Rodgers gets some love in the NL West and projects to be a valuable asset for the Rockies in 2019 if given significant playing time. Based on Steamer600 by FanGraphs, Rodgers is projected to slash .280/.323/.451 with 19 HR and a 92 wRC+ over 600 plate appearances. That’s a 2.0 WAR season from a 22-year-old rookie, but Brendan will have plenty of competition from fellow prospect Garrett Hampson (90 wRC+ projection) and former prospect Ryan McMahon.

Also of note would be Dykstra’s discussion of Peter Lambert, who falls in the “Give it time” category. At 21 years of age, there is no rush to push Lambert to the major leagues, especially following a rough start in Triple-A last year (5.04 ERA in 11 starts). The Rockies also have a very strong rotation currently, and are blessed with depth at SP they haven’t seen in ages. Lambert has a promising career ahead of him, but it shouldn’t start in 2019.

Prospects to watch for all 30 teams | MLB.com

Thomas Harding adds his thoughts on Brendan Rodgers as the Rockies best “prospect to watch” in 2019. Harding suggests that Spring Training will offer Rodgers a real chance at winning the starting second base job. The most likely outcome is Brendan will start the year in Triple-A again, he says, but a “breakthrough spring” would be too hard to ignore. Ryan McMahon would have to take on a bench role mostly, flexing between back-up 1B and 2B, while Garrett Hampson would likely need to spend more time in the outfield, I think.

Make or break players: National League | Beyond the Box Score

In this piece, Daniel Epstein of Beyond the Box Score picks each NL team’s make-or-break player, i.e. “the dude who is most likely to either propel them forward or hold them back.” Interestingly, he picks Kyle Freeland for the Rockies.

I can’t say that I agree with him. Kyle Freeland is arguably our ace (I see ya, German), but the depth of our rotation and their all-around success last year makes them easily the most well-rounded group of players on the team—no single player from the starting five will make or break our chances in 2019. Epstein’s reasoning is that Kyle has had a “roller coaster” of a career, but I think two seasons in the majors is a bit soon to start with that label.

Colorado Rockies: The State of the franchise | Rox Pile

In honor of the State of the Union address given last night, Noah Yingling of Rox Pile gives us his “State of the Franchise” for the Colorado Rockies. This in-depth analysis of the organization entering 2019 covers the bullpen, the rotation, the offense, and more specifically, the outfield and catchers. There’s a lot of parity here, and, generally speaking, the offense looks concerning while there is a lot of optimism for the pitching staff.

Noah also suggests that while the Wild Card competition has gotten tougher, the Dodgers haven’t done much to get better, either. That being the case, a division title may be the Rockies best bet to make the Postseason in 2019.

New Era 2019 Spring Training caps drop some new team looks | SB Nation

Lastly, New Era revealed all of its Spring Training caps for the 2019 season. As usual, there’s some winners (Milwaukee, Washington, Oakland) and some losers (Baltimore, Arizona, Detroit)—all my opinion. Most importantly, though, the Rockies are going with the Colorado flag version of the baseball-flying-over-the-mountains BP logo again, and SB Nation’s Isaac Chipps classified it in the “Best of the Rest” category.

What are your thoughts on the returning Spring Training logo for the Rockies? Winner? Loser? Iconic? Lazy? Let us know if you’ll be sporting it in 2019 or pretending it doesn’t exist. At the very least, it’s another reminder that baseball is right around the corner!