Arizona Diamondbacks (0-0) vs Colorado Rockies (0-0)
Well, the season is upon us. Time to find out if the D-Backs are legitimate contenders, or if they will fall flat in the face of expectations. I'm sure the team will be happy to start the year against the Rockies, one of the weakest teams in the league last season. However, they have one of the best, most underrated players in the majors, and a line-up capable of doing quite a bit of damage. Without further ado, let's take a look at how the next 3 games might end up going.
State of the Rockies
Colorado is in all out rebuilding mode, focusing on a strategy of producing homegrown players. That takes time. They remained relatively quiet during the off-season, with the signing of Gerardo Parra and a trade for closer Jake McGee being the most notable moves. Mark Reynolds and Chad Qualls were also signed this offseason, so I guess the Rockies are a fan of those late-2000 Diamondbacks. Don't expect anything too different from what we've seen in the past few years. Decent offense, atrocious pitching.
That decent offense is anchored by Nolan Arenado, who you probably already know is pretty dang good. If you didn't already know that, he hit 42 homers while batting .287, which is pretty dang good. A name you probably don't know which you'll see a lot is shortstop Trevor Story. After Jose Reyes had the whole domestic violence ordeal, Story was called upon to take the shortstop duties. He was at one point considered the heir to Tulo but has tailed off the last couple years, so we'll see his first big league action.
For Arizona, A.J. Pollock (ugggghhhhhh) and Josh Collmenter start the season on the DL. On the Rockies side, starting pitchers Tyler Matzek and Jon Gray begin on the DL. They would more than likely be in the rotation if healthy, so their injuries (or performance anxiety for Matzek) will definitely not help and already weak starting 5.
Pitching Matchups (all stats from 2015)
Game 1: Jorge de la Rosa LHP (9-7, 4.17 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs Zack Greinke RHP (19-3, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP)
Doesn't it feel like de la Rosa has been in Colorado for 30 years? Apparently this will only be the 9th year, but it sure seems like more. He's not going to overpower anyone, with a fastball in the low 90s. He instead relies on offspeed pitches, which has served him pretty well throughout his career. Not very exciting, but gets the job done.
Finally. After all this anticipation, we get to see Greinke pitching in a Diamondbacks uniform. It's gonna be a fun game.
Game 2: Chad Bettis RHP (8-6, 4.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) vs Shelby Miller RHP (6-17, 3.02 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
Meh. Not much to say about Mr. Bettis. Low 90s fastball. Slider, curve, change-up for his offspeed pitches. Average ground ball and fly ball rates. Probably not related to Jerome.
It's too bad that every time his name is brought up, minds will jump to "The Shelby Miller Trade", because he's a very good pitcher. Don't let his record fool you, pitcher records are dumb. Miller was fantastic in the first half of last season, with a 2.38 ERA at the break. He's been working on a new change-up to add to his great fastball, cutter, and curve combo, giving him a strong and diverse pitch arsenal. I see him being one of the best #2's in the league.
Game 3: Tyler Chatwood RHP (0 innings pitched) vs Patrick Corbin LHP (6-5, 3.60 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Chatwood hasn't pitched in a big league game since April of 2014, when he tore the ol' UCL and had to get Tommy John surgery. Before that surgery, Chatwood had been one of the leading ground ball pitchers in the majors, at 57% GB% in 2012 and 2013. He relies on mainly faster pitches, with a 4-seamer, 2-seamer, and slider leading his arsenal.
Having Corbin for an entire season will be a huge plus for this season. Corbin pitched very well after returning from TJ surgery halfway through last season, and all signs indicate he'll be back to 2013 all-star form.
For the Diamondbacks, there are so many guys who could go either way on offense. We'll go with Yasmany Tomas and Chris Owings as Arizona's X-Factors. Now that Pollock is gone, Tomas needs to step up and have a big role in this offense. If he doesn't, this could be a long season. For Owings, it will be very interesting to see how he handles center on Monday. Like Tomas, he needs to have a really good season if the D-Backs want to compete.
The Rockies' X-Factor is their pitching staff. For Colorado to have a chance, their pitchers will need to greatly outperform expectations in these first few games.
Let's start out the season on an optimistic note. D-Backs sweep Rockies due to far superior pitching. Now, let's watch some baseball :-)