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Series Preview #6 : D-backs @ Rockies

Nolan Arenado celebrates with a virtual elbow bump.
Nolan Arenado celebrates with a virtual elbow bump.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rockies drafted and kept most of their best players.

  • Let’s look at the Rockies’ 30-man roster shown in Roster resource in FanGraphs. How many were drafted by the Rockies? The answer: Five players in their “go to lineup,” three of their starting pitchers, and four of their six bench players. A few of the Rockies signings follow.
  • Rockies signed 5 players with their first or second round draft picks between 2008 and 2013. They are Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, David Dahl, Ryan McMahon.
  • Rockies signed 1 player with their 15th round draft pick in 2015. He is Sam Hilliard.
  • Rockies signed one international free agent in 2010. He is Raimel Tapia.
  • Rockies signed 2 pitchers with their first round draft picks in 2013 and 2014. They are Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland.
  • Rockies signed one international free agent pitcher in 2011. He is Antonio Senzatela.

That strategy may not work beyond the end of the 2021 season, when the Rockies could be without stars Nolan Arenado (Opt out), Trevor Story, Jon Gray, Daniel Murphy, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, and Ian Desmond. The Rockies’ contention window may close after the 2021 season.

Will the Rockies’ star players make the team playoff bound?

In the first nine days of August, the Rockies kept first place in the NL West. First place speaks volumes because of high caliber teams, especially the Dodgers. In this series, the Diamondbacks have an opportunity to knock the Rockies out of first place. This season, their best hitters are Trevor Story, Matt Kemp, Daniel Murphy, and Charlie Blackmon. Hitters who are anticipated to bounce back to last season’s excellence are Nolan Arenado, Sam Hilliard, and David Dahl. These 7 hitters are a powerhouse.

This season, the Rockies rotation has four excellent pitchers. German Marquez is their ace. In each of the last three seasons, his strikeouts-to-walks ratio was top-10 in the NL. Former first round draft picks, Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland, are potential aces. This season, Antonio Senzatela is pitching at his career best.

“I think you have an incredible nucleus of players that you need to build on and try to take this to the next level.” — Dick Monfort, Rockies Owner

Dick Monfort wants this season to be better than the last few seasons, when they reached the playoffs twice. In 2017, the Rockies lost their wild card game against the Diamondbacks. In 2018, the Rockies lost their Division playoff series against the Brewers. If fans thought the Rockies would acquire proven stars, the lack of offseason changes shouts they were mistaken.

Nolan Arenado perceived “...a lot of disrespect from people there that I don’t want to be a part of.” Jeff Passan wrote, “The disrespect, sources told ESPN, centered on the Rockies’ winter of inaction.”

In July, Patrick Saunders wrote, “I’ve texted Nolan about the subject and he’s pretty much dismissed the issue — at least for now.”

“If there’s a chance to win a World Series, that should be the goal. I want to win. The goal is to always win.” — Nolan Arenado

“I’d rather win a World Series than have my number retired.” — Nolan Arenado

Perhaps the Rockies were too cautious because their history of acquiring free agents that disappointed. In 2017 and 2018, the Rockies acquired Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. In 2019, their minus 2.4 WAR was far worse than expected while their salaries were about 30% of the Rockies payroll.

  • In July, Ian Desmond opted out of this season, reducing his burden on the Rockies.
  • On 17 July, the Rockies released Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw.
  • Wade Davis remains on the team. He finished 2 games before hitting the IL. If he finishes 30 games he will have a player option for $15 Million in 2021.

The biggest offseason acquisitions were Chris Owings and Daniel Bard. Let’s look at these acquisitions.

Chris Owings is on the active roster.

Chris Owings played for the D-backs from 2013-2018. During those years he accumulated 3.4 WAR. In his last three years he was primarily a shortstop and outfielder. He made honorable mention as a possible candidate for all-decade right-fielder for the D-backs in this article.

He played for two teams in 2019. For the Royals he primarily played second-base, third-base, and the outfield, each about equally. For the Red Sox he played 68% second-base and 30% shortstop.

In 2020, he signed a minor league contract for the Rockies and made their active roster. This season he primarily played second base. It’s great to see his continued success.

Daniel Bard is on the active roster.

After 5 seasons, he would not be seen again in the Majors for 7 years. His ERA ranged from 1.93 to 3.65 in his first three seasons as a reliever for the Red Sox. Then, in 2012, he was a starter for 10 of his 17 games, with an ERA of 6.22.

In 2013, when he had serious ‘yips’, he pitched in 2 games with an ERA of 9.0. That’s when it got interesting. Although Daniel Bard was no longer pitching in the Majors, in December of 2013, Theo Epstein said, “He’s not giving up.” Truly, Epstein’s comment captured Daniel Bard’s imperative to vanquish the ‘yips’.

“…I think some people are definitely more predisposed to it [yips]. It’s the way people’s brains work. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a certain level of self-awareness. It’s a certain level of self-consciousness that’s built into who you are…” — Daniel Bard

“Bard’s metamorphosis began authentically — perhaps even accidentally — while working for the D-backs, the Rockies’ division rival, over the past two seasons. He joined the organization as a player mentor and mental skills coach before Spring Training in 2018, largely because he knew key members of the Arizona front office from their time with the Red Sox: general manager Mike Hazen and assistant GMs Amiel Sawdaye and Jared Porter.” — Jon Paul Morosi @jonmorosi July 17, 2020.

So far this season, he pitched 7.2 innings his first six games, allowing only 3 earned runs. He struck out 9 batters while walking none. His 0.62 FIP is lower than all other Rockies’ pitchers.

“Remarkable story and incredible triumph for one of the nicest people in the game. Bravery and perseverance is a winning combination.” — Theo Epstein comment about Daniel Bard

Which super-star third-baseman (Nolan Arenado or Matt Chapman) will perform better against the Diamondbacks?

The similarities of these players were examined in detail here. If the games are played, I will look at four games by each player against the Diamondbacks: this three-game series, the 17-20 August four-game series (Athletics & D-backs), and the 24 August game (Rockies & D-backs). Points are earned as follows:

  • Reaches base safely: 1 point (hit, walk, hit-by-pitch)
  • Each stolen base: 1 point, with 2 bonus points for stealing home
  • Each RBI: 2 points (for example grand slam would be 8 points)
  • Each putout: 2 points
  • Each assist: 1 point, with 2 bonus points for double play
  • Each error: minus 2 points


Who will perform best against the Diamondbacks?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Nolan Arenado by large margin.
    (13 votes)
  • 26%
    Nolan Arenado.
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    Matt Chapman.
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Matt Chapman by large margin.
    (0 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now