The Rockies had the worst offensive output for an Opening Day game in franchise history, only getting three hits on Friday against the Rangers. But let’s blame that on the first-game jitters.
During the rest of the series in Texas, the pitching, defense, and offense opened many Rockies fans eyes and there should be optimism that this team can go deep into the playoffs. In the three games against the Rangers, the Rockies executed those phases of baseball beautifully.
We expected German Marquez to improve significantly from last year, but on Opening Day, baseball fans saw a dominating performance. Marquez pitched a perfect game through five innings. He finished the outing giving up two hits and one run, which was the decider, and struck out six. Similarly, Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland for the start of the 2020 season threw dictating innings both with an earned run averaging less than three runs a game. The starting pitching has always been the biggest question mark for this team, but if they continue like the series against the Rangers, this team will be looked as a true contender.
Coincidently after releasing Brain Shaw and Jake McGee, the relief pitching staff looked relaxed and ready for the big leap forward without the overpriced failures. The biggest story in the league is the comeback story for Daniel Bard who pitched in a game for the first time in seven years, and even hit 100 on the radar gun. The tale of Bard is great, but he will contribute in relief for this team in a big way.
Defensively, there were some questions about Daniel Murphy and Ryan McMahon playing first base and what Rockies manager Bud Black would do with Charlie Blackmon. It came to a surprise to many that Brendan Rodgers wasn’t on the 30-man roster, but the reasoning is fair with Black stating he would not get the quantity and quality at-bats he needs to succeed in “The Show.” During the series against the Rangers, all the gloves were working astoundingly with highlight-reel worthy snatches by Garret Hampson with a home-run robbing grab and Trevor Story with an incredible tag on a stealing base runner. Of course, Nolan Arenado will be looking to grab more hardware for his gold and platinum glove on the corner.
We know offensively the Rockies will hit, but the improvement from last year to this year was the patience of the batters, and drawing walks. It’s easy to say that umpiring was questionable behind the plate, which may have contributed to the many strikeouts. It will take time for the Rockies bats to come alive just for the reason of facing other pitchers than their own and getting familiar with a shortened schedule. As expected, David Dahl will be a threat at the leadoff position and Story already looks locked in with two homers in a single game.
It’s hard not to like this team and the flexibility in the lineup cards from their improved starting pitching, making web gems plays on defense and the potent offense. With 56 games to go, the Rockies will scrap together wins and it doesn’t matter how pretty they get runs, but as long as they get wins, they will be in the running for their first even division title. The sprint for the asterisk championship is fully underway.
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