Opening Day is a special time. It represents hope and a new beginning for all teams, it’s a necessary step on the way to full blown summer after a dark and baseball-less winter, and it’s even been proposed for it to be a national holiday. It’s the one day all year that all teams are tied and starting at the place.
The Rockies opened last season in similar fashion to how they will open this one on Friday: at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Those two times have been the only two times the Rockies have opened against the Dodgers, surprising, considering they’ve opened against the co-division rival Diamondbacks eight times to date.
And while the name on the away side of the scoreboard will stay consistent, not much else will be on the Rockies starting roster. From Opening Day of the pandemic shortened 2020 season to Opening Day 2021, the Rockies brought back just three players to return to their starting role - Trevor Story at short, Charlie Blackmon in right, and Germán Márquez on the mound. Based on recent predictions of the Rockies next iteration of the Opening Day roster, they will again bring back three starters. With the departure of Trevor Story and Kyle Freeland making the start on the mound, just Charlie Blackmon is left from the 2020/2021 group, but he’s joined by C.J. Cron and Elías Díaz as returnees.
When was the last time the Rockies returned only three players from the previous year’s Opening Day roster? 2006, according to Baseball Reference, when Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, and Matt Holliday all came back to start after also starting on Opening Day 2005. The recent turnover should look to slow down, however, with Kris Bryant and Ryan McMahon both signed to long term deals, plus Elías Díaz, C.J. Cron, and Randal Grichuk all signed through at least next year.
Some other Opening Day quick hits:
- Whoever (Connor Joe?) starts at DH will become the franchise leader in Opening Day starts at that position, tying the recently-departed Raimel Tapia, who started there during Opening Day 2020.
- Ryan McMahon did not make last year’s Opening Day lineup, instead entering the game as a pinch hitter while Chris Owings and Josh Fuentes got the nods at second and third, respectively. McMahon recovered well, earning a starting job for the Rockies soon after and wound up enjoying the best year of his young career, capped off by signing a six year extension in the off-season.
- Kyle Freeland will also earn a share of the franchise lead for Opening Day starts by a pitcher when he starts his second. That list, however, is more extensive than the DH list - Freeland will be the Rockies 10th pitcher to make two Opening Day starts, joining Germán Márquez, Jon Gray, and Jorge de la Rosa, among others.
What are your favorite Opening Day memories? Will you be in attendance at Coors Field later this week? Let us know in the comments below.
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Five Rockies prospects who underscore hope Colorado can soon return to contention | The Denver Post ($)
Despite some of the Rockies brass publicly saying that they believe the Rockies are close to being a contender at the present, most oddsmakers and season predictions believe that they are at least a couple years out from a return to relevancy. Kyle Newman focuses on five Rockies prospects that could provide a large boost when added to the current core at Coors. Four of the five prospects (Veen, Montgomery, Romo, Toglia) were drafted in the first round during one of the last two years’ drafts, and the fifth (Tovar) was signed out of Venezuela in 2019.
The bats stayed hot for the Rockies on the last Sunday matinee of Spring Training as they put out 17 hits for 13 runs against Lucas Giolito and the White Sox. Colton Welker had a two-RBI single with two outs in the second, and was followed by Garrett Hampson contributing a two-RBI hit of his own to put the Rockies in the lead, and they’d never trail again. Welker finished the day 2-3 with three RBIs. The other standout offensively was Yonothan Daza, who finished the day 3-3 with an RBI, walk, and two runs scored. On the defensive side of the ball, Brandon Gold pitched into the third, allowing four runs on seven hits, but was supported well by the bullpen in relief. Tyler Kinley, Robert Stephenson, Justin Lawrence, Nick Kennedy, and Chad Smith combined for 6.2 innings of no-run, two-hit baseball.
The Rockies have just two Spring Training games remaining, starting with a nightcap against the Brewers tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:40 PM MT at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
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