|Corey Dickerson highlights the Rockies depth.|
On Saturday night, the Rockies scored more runs in the first two batters against Reds starter Alfredo Simon has given up in any one of his first five starts of the season. Charlie Blackmon belted a leadoff shot on an 0-2 pitch, followed immediately by Corey Dickerson, who blasted the seventh pitch he saw into the seats in right field.
Saturday could have been a pivotal game for the Rockies. After a phenomenal home stand, the Rockies hit the road for seven games. After a lethargic loss in the finale in Texas, then a tough, walk-off win on Friday in Cincinnati, the Rockies easily could have watched their momentum evaporate into the Cincinnati humidity.
The tough part for the Rockies is that their history suggests they will struggle on the road. Despite each team being new and having it's own feel, the fact that so many teams before them have struggled away from Coors Field, it would be easy for a losing streak to get into the player's heads and make them believe that their early season success was a fluke.
If Saturday is any indication, the Rockies don't even know they are on the road. This team is making a habit of flirting with double digit runs and nearly 20 hits. The Rockies racked up 16 total hits, 11 of which went for extra bases. While Great American Ballpark is known for being a hitter's park, the Rockies are generally bad in any park away from home.
Another thing to consider for the 2014 Rockies is that they actually have depth. In years past, the bench and the first line of minor league call-ups were questionable at best. If the team had to go to the minors for reinforcements, they were usually met with a castoff from another franchise, or they would have to go all the way to Double-A to find the talent.
This Rockies team, however, has so much talent it is going to be difficult for Walt Weiss to get enough at-bats for his whole team to stay hot. Dickerson is a prime example of just that. As a mediocre defender, Dickerson won't get a great amount of starts in the outfield. However, on Saturday night, when his name was called, he drilled four extra base hits, including two home runs. He had four RBIs and scored three runs.
Blackmon was another question mark for the Rockies. Coming out of spring training, he was the center fielder by default. He didn't have a great spring training and the competition was fierce. It seemed that Blackmon would be on the team, but he would be splitting time with both Brandon Barnes and Dickerson. Instead, Blackmon has done nothing but entrench himself as an everyday player for the Rockies.
His hot start was easy to write off and wait for reality to set in. However, as April turned to May, and May gets closer to June, Blackmon is still hitting well. He is still taking great at-bats and he is certainly supplanted himself in center field.
At this point, has anyone given any thought to Dexter Fowler? A move that took plenty of heat from fans and bloggers, myself included, alike, the trade of Fowler to the Astros seems like one of best moves Dan O'Dowd has made. Not only did the move give Blackmon a chance to prove what he could do, it also brought back Jordan Lyles and gave the Rockies enough money to sign Justin Morneau. If the Rockies make a run at the postseason in 2014, that move will be the main reason why.
Speaking of Lyles, even with a great amount of run support, the young righty continues to emerge as a very good pitcher. With his history, fans have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead, he continues to march his way to a breakout season. With a six inning performance in which he gave up two runs on four hits, Lyles improved to 5-0 for the Rockies. His ERA is a minuscule 2.66. On Saturday, he showed that he can get swings and misses, as well as ground ball outs. He struck out a season high eight batters, and got five groundball outs, two of which resulted in double plays.
At this point, it is getting more and more difficult to argue that the Rockies are a fluke. They are an exciting team to watch. They don't have an easy out at any position in their entire lineup, and their starting rotation, even with Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson on the disabled list, is looking very good. Jorge De La Rosa, Lyles and now with Jhoulys Chacin give the Rockies three strong starters to give their offense enough of a chance to win most games.
Whether the Rockies fade as spring turns to summer or not, this team is fun to watch right now. They aren't winning lucky games, they are handing it to teams and beating good pitchers. The Rockies are a much improved team from a year ago, and there certainly is no reason to believe that they can't keep it up.
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