The Colorado Rockies enter the 2015 season with a lot of familiar faces from last season. That may not be an encouraging sign for a team that went 66-96 last season. Colorado’s offense, however, scored 755 runs last season, which was the third highest total in baseball. Led by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado’s lineup is filled with promising young players. The most promising of those young players are outfielders Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon. Dickerson clubbed a team-high 24 home runs last season while Blackmon stole a team-high 28 bases.
Colorado’s infield is comprised by a lot of power hitters, led by catcher Wilin Rosario, first baseman Justin Morneau, second baseman DJ LeMahieu and third baseman Nolan Arenado. While Colorado’s offense presents numerous issues for opposing starters, Colorado’s starting rotation is filled with holes. None of Colorado’s starting pitchers posted ERAs lower the 4.00. Jorge De La Rosa is the ace of the staff, but posted a 14-11 record during 2014 with a 4.01 ERA. Here are five things to watch during Spring Training.
(Tickets for all Rockies spring training games can be purchased at the bottom of this post)
Storyline #1: Health of Gonzalez and Tulowitzki
It’s no secret that Gonzalez and Tulowitzki have issues remaining healthy for a full season. Gonzalez dealt with a multitude of injuries during 2014 and ultimately missed 92 games. Tulowitzki missed 72 games during 2014, but hit 21 home runs in 315 at-bats. Colorado will need both of these players if they want to have any chance of competing.
Storyline #2: The Starting Rotation
Last season Colorado had one of the worst starting rotations in baseball and it hasn’t improved much throughout the offseason. Colorado will need De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin to step up during 2015. Colorado’s offense will score a lot of runs, but will the starting pitchers limit the opposition?
Storyline #3: LaTroy Hawkins’ Final Season
The 2015 season will be the last for Colorado’s 42-year-old closer. Despite his age, Hawkins was impressive last season, saving 23-of-26 opportunities while posting a 3.31 ERA. He’ll need to secure the back end of the bullpen one last time.
Storyline #4: Justin Morneau’s Resurgence
Last season, Morneau had his best season since 2010. In 135 games, Morneau hit .319, slugged 17 home runs, and drove in 82 runs. Set to earn just $6.25 million in 2015, Morneau will command a nice return if Colorado falls out of the race.
Storyline #5: The Emergence of Nolan Arenado
Entering his third season, the 24-year-old Arenado will look to take another step forward. After hitting 10 home runs and driving in 52 runs as a rookie, Arenado hit 18 home runs and drove in 61 runs during 2014. If Gonzalez and Tulowitzki are healthy, he’ll have many more opportunities to hit with runners on base.
Many Rockies spring training tickets go on sale on Saturday and they currently have an average price of $50 on the secondary ticket market.