Greetings! Let's head out to Denver and visit the pitching-challenged Rockies!
Projected Starters - Wilin Rosario (C), Todd Helton/Tyler Colvin (1B), Josh Rutledge (2B), Troy Tulowitzki (SS), Chris Nelson (3B), Carlos Gonzalez (LF), Dexter Fowler (CF), Michael Cuddyer (RF)
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are back to anchor the best part of the Rockies squad. Tulo is the best shortstop on the planet when he's healthy, having cranked out four separate seasons of 5.5 WAR or better. He's a power-hitting guy (career .868 OPS) from a premium position and a legit star. The only knock on him is that he can't stay on the field, having played 122 games or less in three of the past five seasons. Gonzalez had an .881 OPS with 22 homers and 20 steals in a "down" year last year. The outfielder has some defensive and durability issues, but when he plays, he's good. After those two guys and the ever-steady Michael Cuddyer (.806 OPS last year), the questions come. Dexter Fowler is a "toolsy" guy in center who finally put it together in 2012 with a .389 OBP, 13 homers, and 12 steals, but can he repeat it? Josh Rutledge and Wilin Rosario both debuted in a big way last season, combining for 36 homers in just over 700 PA's, but both guys are very green and have a lot to prove. The Helton/Colvin combo is a classic "devil you don't know over devil you know" situation, as Colvin has big-time power upside (and downside) while Helton will hit .300 rolling out of bed. This is a solid lineup, and they should produce at a high level, especially in Coors Field.
Projected - Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De la Rosa, Jeff Francis, Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz/Tyler Chatwood
And after all of that positivity... the wheels come off. The leader in Fangraphs WAR among Colorado pitchers last year? Matt Belisle. He's a relief pitcher. That's never a good sign. Chacin is coming off of a bad/injured year (4.43 ERA in 69 innings), De La Rosa is coming back from Tommy John, Nicasio had a 5.28 ERA in a limited role in 2012, Francis is Francis (aka he's terrible and has a career 4.86 ERA with no strikeout upside), and the Pomeranz/Chatwood duo is unproven. Sound good to anyone? At least the Rockies have abandoned the insane 4-man shortened rotation, but it'd be a miracle if this was an average rotation in 2013.
Projected - Rafael Betancourt (closer), Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino, Wilton Lopez, Rex Brothers, Josh Outman
Betancourt saved 31 games last year and is now "proven" in the role (lol). More importantly, he's a strikeout guy (nearly a K per IP) and he posted really nice peripherals last season. Brothers and Belisle are the late-inning, high-leverage guys and both are quite good. Brothers is their "closer" of the future, and a guy who struck out over 11 batters per 9 last season with high-end stuff. After that, it's not a "who's who", but this is a solid unit if they stay healthy and avoid the Coors trouble.
In the end, the rotation is going to undue the 2013 Rockies. The lineup, when healthy, has the potential to be among the best in the NL, but with exactly zero reliable starting pitchers, that's a tough hill to climb. Things will be better than in 2012, but not by much.
66-96, 5th in NL West