Coors Field is a hitter’s heaven, which conversely makes it a pitcher’s hell. So then why did the Rockies young bats falter and their pitchers succeed? Because the Colorado Rockies are in the UpsideDown, and things might not seem as they appear.
The Colorado Rockies
2020: Record: 26 – 34
2020 Finish: 4th in the NL West, 12th in the National League
Surprises in 2020
Charlie Blackmon had the baseball world buzzing as he spent the first half of the season hitting above .400. Blackmon has long been one of the best outfielders in the game and even narrowly missed out on winning NL MVP in 2017 thanks to the Coors Effect. But 2020 was another level. Charlie Blackmon was on fire, and he didn’t slow down until he ran out of fuel.
While Blackmon’s hitting stole focus for a majority of the season after the dust cleared young Rockies shined the brightest, and both of them were pitchers.
German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela had exceptional seasons both by non-Rockies standards and by Coors Field pitching standards. The last time the Rockies had two starting pitchers with ERAs below 3.80 was back in 2018 when Kyle Freeland was a Cy Young finalist and the other pitcher was German Marquez.
In his five seasons in the majors Marquez has spent two of them with and ERA below 4.00. For any other pitcher that’s just two decent seasons, but for a Colorado pitcher, that’s gold.
Senzatela on the other hand hasn’t seen the same success in the Majors, finishing 2019 with an ERA north of 6.70. By focusing more on his control, Senzatela managed to drastically reduce his numbers from the previous season and put up more normal numbers. A 1.214 WHIP looks a lot better than anything above 1.700.
Should these two keep progressing and maturing in Colorado and Kyle Freeland stabilizes his performance, the Rockies have a solid three arms at the top of their rotation. The only way to shutdown great hitting is with great pitching.
Disappointments in 2020
While the future of the rotation appeared bright in 2020, the future of the offense did not. Raimel Tapia had a fantastic season at the plate, and Josh Fuentes shined in his 30 games, but the majority of the Rockies young studs failed to impress in the shortened season.
Brendan Rogers, Garrett Hampson, and Sam Hilliard were not as impressive as the Rockies front office might have wished them to be. However, all of this is still too early to make any real judgment on any of them, but there’s some room for improvement down the road.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The Rockies have a decision to make, but it seems like they’re already tipping their hand.
After two back to back playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018, the Rockies have since cratered, turning towards a rebuild rather than a championship push. That pivot has come in the last two seasons, as marked by their excitement in signing Nolan Arenado to an 8-year, $260 Million dollar extension only to start shopping him around the very next season.
The Rockies are in the midst of an identity crisis as they careen towards a rebuild, one they seemingly went through not too long ago. Those optics aren’t great for a team that recently made the playoffs only to shrink back to the bottom of the division.
To think that the Rockies only gave themselves a two season window to succeed after their last retool of the organization is wild. Something went wrong here, and now Rockies fans will have to suffer another stretch of figuring out who their team is.
Projected 2021 Finish: 70 – 92 4th in the NL West
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