|Can Troy Tulowitzki stay healthy for the Rockies?|
With two straight last place finishes in the NL West, the Rockies are the team to be overlooked as many will do. An easy team to shrug off, the Colorado Rockies are going to surprise some people this year as well as make a push for a wild card spot.
The potent Rockies lineup along with a rotation that can compete daily, will equal success. Keeping healthy will be a major key this year for the Rockies along with a bullpen that doesn't give up late leads.
So far, the Rockies lineup has shown what they can do and what they will continue to do if the lineup stays healthy. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez together create one of the most dynamic twosomes in the game of baseball today, and along with Michael Cuddyer the middle of the lineup will terrorize pitchers. Staying healthy, they can and will carry a Rockies offense into many big run games and wins.
The Rockies have a lineup full of overlooked players that will impact the success of this season greatly. Charlie Blackmon is off to a hot start and is looking to be everyday center field material. D.J. Lemahieu will hit for average over the course of the season and will come up with the clutch hit when needed. Nolan Arenado will look to improve upon an already impressive rookie season by adding to his average and power numbers. Wilin Rosario will also look to improve upon his impressive season last year with similar power numbers and a slight increase in average. Justin Morneau will replace Todd Helton and as the season rolls along he will have a comeback year proving to be a succesful addition to the Rockies lineup.
The runs that the lineup creates is going to need to be backed by what can be a solid rotation and bullpen.
Losing two of their top three starters (Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood) for the start of the year puts the Rockies off to a slow start in the rotation. Along with Jorge de la Rosa's control and emotion issues, the top three pitchers for the Rockies aren't even helping them win. Once the Chacin and Chatwood are back to healthy and Jorge gets his issues ironed out, these three can keep the Rockies close in the standings.
For the Rockies to reach the playoffs, the 4th and 5th starter will have to be competitive and give the team a chance to win . Last year the 4th and 5th starters for the Rockies had an abysmal record of 18-42. The Rockies back rotation can perform better than this and I believe it will. Juan Nicasio, bolstering a new split-finger, will likely continue to grow and give the Rockies a viable back of the rotation starter. Along with Brett Anderson, this team will have a starting rotation solid enough to reach the playoffs.
Possessing a top lefty in Rex Brothers, the workhorse Matt Belisle, veteran closer LaTroy Hawkins, and the overlooked Adam Ottavino, the Rockies have bullpen potential. It's hard to predict whether Belisle will return to form from a difficult 2013 or if LaTroy Hawkins can indeed be a major league closer, but if they do perform the way the Rockies hope they do, this is a team to focus on over the course of 2014.
The 2014 Rockies will surprise many this year and will make a strong playoff push. With a little luck, the injury prone Dodgers will under perform, the Diamondbacks will continue their early season struggle, the Giants will fall apart due to late season fatigue, the Padres will be Padres and will be nothing more than average, and the Rockies will win their first National League West title.
Cameron is a 19-year-old student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, looking to major in English with a concentration in writing. He is an avid Colorado sports fan and has followed all Colorado sports my whole life. His favorite sport is baseball and the Rockies are his favorite team. You can follow Cameron on Twitter @acmwin20.