|Can Weiss lead the Rockies to success?|
BY: CAMERON PARSONS
Rockies fans have every right to be skeptical of this hot April start. This is a year though where it won't just be a hot April start that falls off into underperforming the more the year goes on. The Rockies have the pieces to succeed and will continue to put together a successful 2014.
The least surprising part of the Rockies team is the potent lineup. From top to bottom this is a team with strong offensive weapons. Charlie Blackmon has become the lead off hitter and is taking full advantage of his at-bats by leading the league in hits, batting average, and slugging percentage. Troy Tulowitzki is on fire in the early going and fulfilling his role as cleanup hitter. Justin Morneau has returned to his MVP form, driving in runs and hitting for a high average. Nolan Arenado is proving his offensive prowess by hitting close to .300 and hitting for power. This offense has gotten the Rockies some blowout wins and also keeps them in the game when a Rockies pitcher is struggling.
The Rockies also have the bench depth to cover for the season injuries that will come. Michael Cuddyer has landed on the DL until at least May 3rd, but the Rockies have three pieces that can fill his absence. Corey Dickerson is a left-handed hitter who will take advantage of any and all opportunities he gets. He will likely fill in against right handed starters and give the Rockies a strong lefty hitter off the bench late in the game. Brandon Barnes is already proving his usefulness as a utility outfielder and is performing at the plate much better than expected while also giving above average speed. Drew Stubbs, while off to a slow start, gives the Rockies potential right-handed power and extraordinary speed for late in the game pinch-running situations. He also has the ability to cover the expansive Coors Field outfield. In the infield the Rockies have Josh Rutledge and Charlie Culberson to cover either of the middle infield spots and give competitive at-bats when needed. As Jhoulys Chacin comes off the DL, the Rockies will gain depth at starting pitcher when a starter is struggling or injured.
As pitching has always been a concern for the Rockies, the biggest question going into the season was the starting rotation. Well, these questions have been answered with incredible starts from some surprising starters. Jordan Lyles is performing much better than expected and has given the Rockies chances to win each time he's been on the hill. Franklin Morales, after being moved to the bullpen to make room for Tyler Chatwood, came back into the rotation with the injury to Brett Anderson and gave two lights out performances against the Phillies and the NL West rival Giants. Tyler Chatwood, with his return to the rotation, has pitched great giving the Rockies offense a chance to win in each of this starts. A shaky De La Rosa returned to form with his last start and will only improve along the season. The Rockies rotation will perform and allow the team to compete and win games.
The bullpen for the Rockies could be one of the best the Rockies have ever had. Adam Ottavino is off to a stellar start allowing 0 earned runs and Tommy Kahnle has been another right handed setup man that has been extraordinary. Rex Brothers has been the lefty the Rockies need him to be (despite a few rough outings) and will continue to grow into the closer role. Until then, LaTroy Hawkins, the Rockies 41 year old closer, has shown he still has the stuff to save games. He is 6 for 6 in save opportunities this year.
The Rockies have the pieces to make a playoff run. Walt Weiss is the risk taker the Rockies need and with him leading the way, the skepticism will turn into optimism which will turn into a run at winning the NL West.
Follow Cameron Parsons on Twitter @acmwin20