StrategyFebruary 26, 2013

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Colorado Rockies

By R.J. White

Last year’s Rockies were the worst iteration of the team in not-so-long franchise history. Never before had the Rockies failed to win at least 40 percent of their games, but last year, the team finished with a 64-98 record and .395 winning percentage. Even more troubling, the team fell at least nine full games from its previous record for an incredible third straight year. After winning 92 games and securing a playoff berth in 2009, the team has won 83, 73 and now 64 games in its last three years. How did a good team get so bad so quickly? More importantly, how much better can they be in 2013?

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Wilin Rosario.270.312.5306728714426 
1B Todd Helton.238.343.400317371283 
2B Josh Rutledge.274.306.469378377291 
SS Troy Tulowitzki.287.360.486338272203 
3B Chris Nelson.301.352.458459532377 
LF Carlos Gonzalez.303.371.51089258220579 
CF Dexter Fowler.300.389.47472135312530 
RF Michael Cuddyer.260.317.4895316588394 

Unsettled: The non-Tulowizki infield. Todd Helton is in what figures to be the final season of his career, and while the Rockies probably won’t turn him into a strict bench player, I expect to see a lot of Tyler Colvin at first base. Josh Rutledge figures to be the team’s starting second baseman after a quality offensive performance in 2012, but the Rockies have also given Eric Young, Jr. work at the position, and if he does well, he may make like difficult for Rutledge’s fantasy owners. Finally, Chris Nelson figures to start at third base, but he played over his head in 2012 and could easily lose time to Jordan Pacheco or even top prospect Nolan Arenado.
Target: Michael Cuddyer. We expected a pretty nice season from Cuddyer heading from Minnesota to Colorado, but his season was cut short by a pretty severe oblique injury that sidelined him for most of the second half. His overall numbers don’t look too hot, which could cause him to be an afterthought in leagues, but he’s still a player with 30-homer, .280-average upside that also chips in a handful of steals. Eligible at first base and the outfield in fantasy leagues, Cuddyer’s MDP of 209.2 suggests players are overlooking his upside.
The Rotation
Jorge de la Rosa (L)0-29.281.786210.2 
Jhoulys Chacin (R)3-54.431.62453269.0 
Drew Pomeranz (L)2-94.931.48834696.2 
Juan Nicasio (R)2-35.281.62542258.0 
Jeff Francis (L)6-75.581.487622113.0 

Unsettled: Definitely. Of the 14 pitchers to make starts for the Rockies last season, only two had an ERA under 5.00: Chacin (4.43) and Pomeranz (4.93). The poor play of the starters explains why the team as a whole checked in with a 5.22 ERA, which was 43 points higher than the next-worst staff in the majors. The Rockies will hope that Jorge de la Rosa can return to his pre-injury form (3.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 52/22 K/BB ratio in 10 starts in 2011) after missing most of last year. The entire staff will have to become less hittable after giving up 10.4 hits per nine innings — only Minnesota was within one hit per inning of that terrible mark. The Rockies are looking to add pitching (obviously) and are reportedly interested in Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann, but we’ll see if the Rays can find something of interest worth working out a trade.
Target: No, just no. Even if the Rockies had some intriguing names in the rotation, the shadow of another season full of strict pitch counts looms over the staff. And while the Rockies aren’t expected to limit their starters to 75 pitches every time, instead going up to 95 to 100 pitches in 2013 according to a report late last season, it’s still enough of a red flag to make everyone hands off, even in many NL-only leagues.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Rafael Betancourt (R)312.811.13571257.2 
Wilton Lopez (R)102.171.0454866.1w/HOU

Chasing Saves: Rafael Betancourt put together a solid first season as the team’s regular closer despite being a little more hittable than he had been in the past four seasons and seeing his previously sky-high strikeout rate fall a little bit to a still-good 8.9 K/9 rate. The speed of his fastball was down a little bit as well, which has to be somewhat concerning for the soon-to-be 38-year-old. Should a change need to be made, Wilton Lopez is the likely successor after putting together a solid season in Houston while spending much of the year in the closer role. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Lopez establish himself as the team’s closer long-term.
Final Thoughts
On one hand, the Rockies have nowhere to go but up after last year’s franchise worst season. On the other hand, they don’t have much promise for the rotation, and until the team can inject some talent into its starting pitching, it’s hard to see them making gains. Still, fantasy owners can grab all the team’s starters except at first base and third base to use as regulars, and some non-starters like Colvin, Pacheco, Young and Arenado deserve a home on your watch list this year.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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