Colorado’s pitching shined on Friday night: a sizable headline after the club posted a National League-worst 5.58 ERA last year.
An eight-inning sample size is admittedly small, but Friday’s pitching was a step in the right direction. German Márquez didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. The Rockies called upon Carlos Estévez and Jairo Díaz for the final 2 1⁄3 innings, allowing a combined one hit and keeping Colorado’s bullpen ERA unblemished.
Daniel Bard began playing catch near the end of Márquez’s outing while the score was 0-0. It suggests either 1. Bud Black is comfortable bringing him in for some higher-leverage situations right away, or 2. the AT&T SportsNet feed just showed some unrelated throws. If the former is true, that has to feel good for Bard. Seven years without a big league appearance, and he got moving around in a tie ballgame on Opening Day.
Márquez threw 94 pitches, which suggests Black may not be afraid to let his starters work toward the century mark early on. With two off days on the horizon next week, the bullpen could see limited action early in the season.
We have yet to see Wade Davis in a 2020 regular season game, as Friday’s game didn’t really call for the Rockies’ use of a closer. Meanwhile, Jake McGee made his Dodgers debut against the Giants on Friday night, inducing a flyout, walk and two groundouts in a low-leverage 8th inning.
Perhaps the coolest part of Friday’s game in Texas: Sam Hilliard’s father Jim was in attendance for his son’s first Opening Day. Jim is currently battling ALS; the #TeamHilliard apparel supporting the fight against ALS can be found here, and all proceeds go toward ALS research and support.
The Rangers’ Saturday starter Mike Minor, a 2019 All-Star, is eyeing free agency this winter. He reportedly hasn’t been offered an extension by the Rangers: “I would love to come back, but that’s not my choice. I haven’t been given any type of extension opportunity.” He will look to prove himself in an abbreviated campaign; that body of work begins against the Rockies this afternoon.
Colorado sent seven left-handed bats to the plate in Friday’s starting lineup. Bud Black may elect to adjust the lineup today and avoid some left-on-left matchups with a lefty starter.
Colorado’s first 24 games feature one opponent that made the postseason last year (Oakland). The road ahead for all of the Rockies’ starting pitchers will be easier leading up to the August 17th week from hell, when the Dodgers and Astros are scheduled for seven straight.
This Pitcher List article forecasts the future starts for Opening Day starter German Márquez and Sunday starter Kyle Freeland. It will be difficult to forecast Colorado’s upcoming starters for the coming week with two days off, however. Bud Black has yet to announce a starting pitcher for the upcoming Oakland series, which suggests Márquez could move up a day in the rotation.
Dodger flamethrower Dustin May is listed as a starter with a tough future schedule. He filled in after Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his Opening Day start; if May continues to fill in for Kershaw’s spot in the rotation, he could be taking on the Astros next Wednesday. Kershaw was placed on the 10-day IL, but says his back is “getting better pretty quick.” Colorado won’t be in line to face him until at least mid-August.
“Even with the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in a 60-game season, FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections pencils in the Rockies with a 26-34 record and five games back of the final National League playoff spot.”
The title of this Patrick Saunders article sums up Story’s views on those predictions: “I don’t think we need outside motivation other than what we have in this locker room to do what we want to do and we really truly believe that we can do it.”
One form of outside motivation has to feel good, however. “Even without throwing a pitch, the Rockies won Thursday,” after MLB announced over half of the National League will make the postseason. Troy Renck pens this article and also discusses Story’s optimism.
Renck details a few things to watch for in the Texas series, as well as for the entire year. He addresses how Daniel Murphy could be a key player to watch early in the season: “He is swinging the bat this summer in a way not seen in a few years.”
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