Trevor Story sees a trend starting for the Colorado Rockies. There has been two straight seasons of Postseason baseball and two straight seasons of one of their biggest stars signing a long-term extension with the team. With a strong, young core of players there is only more winning baseball on the horizon, and the Rockies’ best players are committing to stick around in Denver and lead this club to victory.
And that’s not the only trend. As Mark Feinsand writes, Story is another in a line of Rockies stars who quickly became leaders of the team. Three years ago, guys like Blackmon, Arenado, and LeMahieu were mentors to Trevor as he embarked on an incredible journey in becoming an All-Star and MVP vote-getter. Now, Trevor is looking forward to leading the young up-and-comers wearing purple, like Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson.
Trevor told Feinsand, “when I was a rookie, some guys put their arm around me and helped me a lot, so if I can look to do that for other guys, that’s what I’m going to do.” Trevor knows what it’s like to have ups and downs. He went from a bad 2017 to an MVP candidate in 2018, and that’s the kind of mental approach that is incredibly valuable to teach and share.
Of course, if you talk the talk you have to walk the walk. Aaron Hurt of Rox Pile says it isn’t enough for Trevor Story to just share his experience—he must continue to succeed at an MVP-caliber level on the field, stay healthy, and be better this year than he was last year.
The biggest key to Story’s success, Hurt says, is taking another step forward this season in reducing strikeouts and putting the ball in play more. Trevor will have hitting machines such as Arenado, Blackmon, and even Daniel Murphy likely hitting ahead of him, so there is bound to be traffic and he will be relied on to drive them in. If the Rockies offense takes a step forward this year and keeps them in playoff contention, Story will be a big reason why.
Another young Rockie who had a breakout season in 2018 is Scott Oberg, who had a 2.45 ERA and 2.87 FIP with a strikeout per inning in 56 games for the bullpen. And like Trevor, Oberg will have to go from playing in the shadows to performing in the spotlight, and will be relied upon to be a leader and late inning option for a young Rockies pitching staff.
David Laurila of FanGraphs takes a closer look at what has made Oberg so successful—his slider. What makes it such a powerful weapon, Oberg says, is its ability to look like a fastball out of his hand, aka tunneling his slider, and having varieties of slider motions to mix and match and keep hitters guessing. Scott talks about data, sequencing, planes, statistics, and more, so the analytical types will love this article. Regardless, it’s a great look into the mindset and approach of one of the Rockies best bullpen options in the coming year.
On Friday, Jon Gray threw three perfect innings on 30 pitches and struck out three opponents. It was reminiscent of the best Jon Gray has given us, and is a glimmer of hope that he can return to his former dominant self. What caused this stellar talent to reappear, you ask? Hard work, practice, or a mechanical adjustment? No, it was a haircut, of course.
Carrie Muskat of the Associated Press talked to Jon about his first spring appearance and his expectations for the 2019 season, including his desire to be the Opening Day starter. Jon has confidence and the stuff to back it up, and the Rockies will need him to pitch like he did in 2017 if they want to go far in the Postseason. And for now, the mohawk will stay.
While Jon Gray is competing for a chance to be the Opening Day starter again, Antonio Senzatela is stuck competing for the fifth spot in the rotation again. Mark Feinsand reports that Senzatela is turning his attention to improving his changeup this spring, instead of relying on his slider and curveball as off-speed pitches like he has done the past two years.
Bud Black says Senzatela’s changeup is in fact coming back to fruition and working well with his fastball, but on Saturday Antonio was beat up a little bit by the White Sox, giving up five hits, one walk, and two unearned runs in two innings pitched, while only striking out one batter. However, his changeup played a crucial role in his outing by making James McCann ground into a double play with the bases loaded to get out of trouble.
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In other spring training action from Saturday, Patty Barrels made a visit to town and knocked a three-run bomb of a dinger to left-field (below). It was another example of how dangerous he can be vs. left-handed pitching. Pat is still competing for a bench role for the Rockies, but his two primary competitors—Hampson and McMahon—both continue to hit the ball very well this spring, too. Valaika will likely find himself in Triple-A to start the year.
Additionally, Seunghwan Oh had a tough day, giving up four runs on two home runs in only two-thirds of an inning, but Bud Black revealed to the media afterwards that Oh was battling a stiff neck which affected his ability to finish pitches. It should only be a day-to-day issue (not long-term), which is good news considering the Rockies will rely heavily on Oh as a late-inning reliever who will bridge the gap to closer Wade Davis in close games.