Today makes the last day of Spring Training before the Rockies make the short trip up to San Diego to start their season with four games against the San Diego Padres and a quick two game series in LA. After six games on the road, the Rockies will come home for seven games, including the home opener against the Washington Nationals. Spring Training is nearly behind us and meaningful games are about to begin. With the season about to begin, let’s break down what to expect from both Opening Day and the home opener that are set to begin this week.
The Rockies start the season with six road games against NL West divisional teams. First up is four games against the Padres, starting Thursday at 2:10 pm Mountain Time, 1:10 local time at Petco Park in San Diego. Last season, surprisingly, the Rockies won the season series against the Padres, winning 10 of their 19 matchups in 2022 despite a solid Padres team that went onto the NLCS. While the weather is usually perfect year-round in San Diego, the forecast calls for 80% chance for rain. Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette notes that the Padres have only had three rainouts since 2006, so the weather may be an unexpected issue come Opening Day.
San Diego, the city that has had only three rainouts since 2006, has an 80 percent chance of rain on opening day pic.twitter.com/6ywoy0DQE2— Danielle Allentuck (@d_allentuck) March 26, 2023
Probable starters for the inaugural game of the 2023 season include aces for both teams’ staffs, Germán Márquez for the Rockies and Blake Snell for the Padres. Game two expects Kyle Freeland to take the bump for the Rockies and Nick Martinez for the home team. The San Diego Padres had a busy offseason acquiring talent they hope to push them over the edge and make it to the World Series this year. Some key transactions for Padres including signing free agent Xander Bogearts and extending Manny Machado to 11 year deals each. On the pitching side, the Padres signed Yu Darvish and Robert Suarez to help their rotation and bullpen. The Padres are one of the top teams in the National League going into the season and will look to build on last year’s successful season.
Opening Day will also be the official start of games using the new rules implemented for 2023 in regular season games. These rules include larger bases, a pitch clock, and limitations on shifting. These rules have been used throughout Spring Training, but Opening Day will be the first time we see these new rules in games that count towards the records.
Following the six games in California to start the year, the Rockies will finally head home to open the season at Coors Field on April 6th. First pitch is at 2:10 pm Mountain Time, but Opening Day festivities will be going on all day in and around Coors Field. Last season, the Rockies lost the season series to the Nationals, taking two of three in Denver at the beginning of May last year, but losing three of four in our nation’s capital later that same month. The Nationals did not make many big offseason moves this year, only resigning pitcher Sean Doolittle and agreeing to terms with old friend Corey Dickerson. In addition to not having big moves, the Nationals did lose a couple big names in Free Agency, with Nelson Cruz, Cesar Hernandez, and Luke Voit all signing elsewhere this winter. With how the rotation is set up and the off day on Wednesday, April 5th, the rotation seems to land on hometown kid Kyle Freeland getting the start at Coors Field that afternoon, but a lot can happen in the two weeks in between. Following four games against the Nationals, the Rockies will host Nolan Arenado and the St. Louis Cardinals for three games.
If you are still waiting to buy your tickets for the Rockies’ home opener, you might buy tickets sooner than later, as a full house is expected as usual.
Average price of a home opener ticket across MLB is $139.97 on @Gametime Tickets.#Rockies average ticket price is $95 for next Thursday at Coors Field.— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) March 28, 2023
Yankees are the most expensive at $371 on average and the Marlins are the cheapest at $47.50 on average this Opening Day.
The cheapest seats available on the TicketMaster site are $55 before fees up in the nosebleeds, with prices increasing the lower levels you get. Even if you are unable to get tickets, there are still plenty of places to visit downtown to feel baseball and spring fever in the city.
What are you most excited about for Opening Day on Thursday? Let us know in the comments!
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Michael Toglia is ending the spring strong with a 4-4 outing on Monday afternoon, including two doubles and a homerun. Toglia is still in the running to make the last spot on the roster for Opening Day, but all indication shows that he may be starting the year in Triple-A Albuquerque. The young switch hitter is now batting .288 with four homers since March 12, showing progress as the spring has gone on. Toglia has a team-high 76 plate appearances in the Cactus League this year, but struggled with putting the ball in play. His 24 strikeouts still indicate that more development is needed before an extended stint in the big leagues. Toglia waits in anticipation in the final days of Spring Training if he will be breaking camp with the Rockies or start the year in the minors one more year.
Despite celebrating their 30th anniversary season this year, the Colorado Rockies are still an “expansion team.” Both teams that joined the league for the 1993 season, the Florida (Miami) Marlins and the Colorado Rockies, have yet to win their division or win more than 92 games in a season. One older example of a team taking a while to remove the “stink” of an expansion team is the Houston Astros, who until last year were under .500 as a team and took over forty years to mature as a club. The Astros are the only the expansion franchise that are not “losers” anymore and the only expansion team to having a winning record. The Rockies are in an interesting place for MLB with their disadvantage of altitude making pitching, getting pitchers, and needing more pitching to make it through a season. Even still, the new rules affect the Rockies more than any other club due to the altitude, such as exhausting pitchers faster by requiring faster pace and limited pickoffs. The Rockies are still an expansion franchise that needs to learn how to overcome their shortfalls as a franchise before they can mature and compete with the rest of the league.
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