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3 ROCKIES

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP COLORADO

No surprise: These guys will mash. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are MVP candidates in their prime—but they're also both getting close to free agency, so the window is closing. If they're going to make a run at a championship, now's the time.... Ryan McMahon came back from Double A with a shortened stroke and started getting a feel for using the opposite field. He's not a 30-home-run guy, not even in that ballpark, but he'll hit for a high average.... Trevor Story has taken a step back since he broke through as a rookie. He sells out for power; his two-strike approach needs a lot of work.... There's talent in the pitching staff and the first time in a long time, there's depth too.... Jon Gray will emerge as a true No. 1 this season. He made big strides in repeating his delivery last year, and Chris Iannetta behind the plate will only help him.... Chad Bettis, coming back from cancer, was one of the best stories of last season, but he needs to increase his K-rate if he's going to thrive in Coors Field.... German Márquez is the guy to watch: On stuff alone, he's a No. 2 with his nasty hook.... They've made a concerted effort to strengthen the bullpen. Adding Wade Davis solidifies a strong unit: I think the formula will work. They'll be in the mix for a playoff spot.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

The Rockies' conundrum is the same as always: How do you convince a team that led the league in runs that it actually has, once you account for the effects of its ballpark, a bad offense? The Rockies were 12th in the NL in wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus), and 11th in OPS+, nerd stats that take the air out of 824 runs scored. GM Jeff Bridich focused on the bullpen this winter, so the offense will have to improve through those already in the organization. Ryan McMahon, a 23-year-old rookie, is the front-runner to win the first base job, after hitting a combined .355/.403/.583 at Double A and Triple A last year. He and veteran catcher Chris Iannetta are the only new blood, so if the Rockies are going to have a truly good offense, those two will have to hit.

OVER / UNDER

82

The rotation beyond Jon Gray poses a lot of questions, but the offense and the improved bullpen will get the Rockies over .500.

THE LINEUP

1. FIRST BASE

Ryan McMahon

.454 SLG/14 HR/10 SB

2. CENTERFIELD

Charlie Blackmon

.514 SLG/27 HR/14 SB

3. SECOND BASE

DJ LeMahieu

.371 OBP/10 HR/10 SB

4. THIRD BASE

Nolan Arenado

.296 BA/.577 SLG./39 HR

5. SHORTSTOP

Trevor Story

.246 BA/26 HR/10 SB

6. RIGHTFIELD

Carlos Gonzalez

.259 BA/16 HR/3 SB

7. LEFTFIELD

Ian Desmond

.275 BA/19 HR/17 SB

8. CATCHER

Chris Iannetta

.247 BA/.444 SLG/10 HR

THE STAFF

FANTASY BREAKOUT

1. RH STARTER

Jon Gray

12 W/4.11 ERA/9.4 K9

Gray, who added a curveball that helps him against lefties, is ready to establish himself as a true ace.

2. RH STARTER

Tyler Anderson

9 W/4.40 ERA/1.35 WHP

3. RH STARTER

German Márquez

8 W/4.60 ERA/1.34 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Chad Bettis

8 W/5.22 ERA/1.50 WHP

CLOSER

Wade Davis

29 SV/3.74 ERA/10.2 K9

THE SKIPPER

Bud Black