2013 Team Preview: Colorado Rockies

USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies ran into some injury problems last season, or more like injuries just found anyone who put on a uniform, but the hope is a healthy roster will lead to better results.

Notable Numbers

28: The number of starts made between their top three starters in the rotation last season due to injury, which also led last year’s manager Jim Tracy to trying out a four man rotation. The idea itself was pretty creative considering they didn’t have the arms to cover their needs in the rotation at the major league level but it wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding, or to save his job for that matter. Perhaps they should have taken it a step further and used their pitchers in three innings stints for starters and then went to the bullpen.

The hope is that Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, and Juan Nicasio are all healthy enough to make 28 starts apiece. If that were to happen then it would go a long way towards helping stabilize the rotation and the bullpen over the course of the season.

5.97: When your pitching staff is giving up nearly six runs per game at home then you know you have a problem. How much of a problem though? The league average ERA in Coors Field was 5.85 last season but someone was bound to have had some success there, right?

Looking specifically at their division rivals, there was just one team that managed to maintain an ERA below five and that was the San Francisco Giants with a "lowly" 4.78 ERA over 79 innings. However, if it weren’t for Barry Zito’s shutout in his lone start in Colorado then their team ERA in Coors would swell to 5.40.

2012 Season in Review

The Rockies went into the 2012 season with the impression that they finally had a pitching staff that would be capable of delivering them from the evils of Coors Field. They knew that their offense would be their biggest strength but they also knew it would be their pitching staff that would have to keep them in enough games, specifically at home, to capitalize on that offense.

Instead the Rockies were decimated by injuries to their lineup and starting rotation. Just one position player appeared in more than 140 games and star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki played in just 47. Their top three starters spent most of the season on the disabled list and only one starter that was healthy pitched over 100 innings.

The team went on to post their lowest win percentage (.395) in franchise history and posted back-to-back losing season for the first time since they ran a string of six consecutive losing seasons from 2001 to 2006.

Key Offseason Moves

Signed Jeff Francis for one year and $1.5M: This could turn out to be the best move of the offseason for the Rockies as bringing Francis back puts a veteran back into their starting rotation and also puts someone in the rotation that has had his fair share of success pitching in Coors Field.

Francis won’t light up the radar gun and he’s a back-end of the rotation guy on most teams but he’s likely to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That may speak volumes about the status of the makeup of their current rotation but he was their most successful starter last season, posting a 4.27 FIP and a 50.3% ground ball rate over 24 starts and 113 innings.

Signed Chris Volstad to a minor league contract for one year and $1.5M: Volstad is a guy who had the best season of his career during his rookie season and has been trying to figure out how to get back to that ever since. He’s shown flashes but he’s inconsistent at best and really bottomed out with the Chicago Cubs last season (5.11 FIP over 111.1 IP).

Even though he may not even crack the rotation he could prove valuable in a middle relief role and make a spot start here and there if necessary. He also provides some much needed depth for a team that proved to not have much beyond what they lost last season.

Acquired middle infielder Reid Brignac from the Tampa Bay Rays for PTBNL: Acquiring Brignac for cash considerations and a player to be named later is not only a very under the radar move but also a good one. Brignac is still just 27 years old and while his role at this point in his career is utility guy he does allow the team some flexibility.

He can play a solid second base and shortstop but also saw some time at third base and the outfield with the Rays last season. He’s not going to hit a ton -- well, he might at Coors -- but he won’t kill you with the glove if you do have to play him regularly due to injury.

Depth Chart

The Rockies have done a little bit to address their depth, or lack thereof, this offseason but I am concerned they still won’t be able to cover for any missed time by their top starters once again -- a group that I wouldn’t call dominant to begin with.

They have a decent amount of depth in the outfield with guys like Eric Young, who could possibly find a starting spot in the lineup on a few other teams around the league, and Tyler Colvin who are already on the bench. Then they have guys like Charlie Blackmon who is right there on the cusp and then of course Tim Wheeler who is only lacking the opportunity to prove himself.

There isn’t as much going on around the infield but they do have guys on the major league roster that can cover any injuries that may happen (looking at you Tulo).

Check out the Rockies 2013 depth chart at MLB Depth Charts

2013 Outlook

PECOTA doesn’t look too favorably on the Rockies chances for this season based on their simulations, predicted to possibly win 73 games, and ZiPS isn’t so hot on them overall either (blame the pitching).

I do expect this team to win more games than they did last season and I also expect them to be in most games. Unfortunately for the Rockies it will all come down to health, as it does for many teams each year, because they just do not have the depth or the waiting in the wings and ready to immediately contribute type of talent in their minor league system just yet.

If there’s one thing that Rockies fans can count on, though, it’s that new manager Walt Weiss should get this team to play hard for him and they’ll be better than they were last season if nothing else.

Check out the Rockies ZiPS projections for 2013 at FanGraphs

Bold Prediction

Wilin Rosario proves that his .270/.312/.530 batting line and 28 home runs the previous season was no fluke and posts better numbers this year. Carlos Gonzalez rebounds from his down year and puts up numbers more representative of a top five left fielder by getting back to the 30 home run club and playing in more than a 140 games for the first time since 2010.

Speaking of playing in games, Troy Tulowitzki will be healthy for the first time in what seems like ages when he tops 150 games played for the first time since 2009, gets back into the 30 home run club himself while also hitting 40 doubles in a season for the first time in his career.

The starting rotation won’t be great but it also won’t be nearly as terrible as they were last season and will keep the team in enough games that they’ll finish with 84 wins and a great deal of optimism heading into the 2013 offseason.

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