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5 Reasons the Future Is Still Bright for the Colorado Rockies

David A. CucchiaraCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2016

5 Reasons the Future Is Still Bright for the Colorado Rockies

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    As the Colorado Rockies sit 18 games back of the streaking LA Dodgers, the remainder of September will comprise of lineup, rookie and rotation experimentation.

    Injury-prone Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez will have their playing time limited while Colorado’s young guns are put on display.

    It’s undoubtedly been yet another disappointing season for the Blake Street Bombers. The pieces were all there, but they simply failed to come together at the right times.

    Individual streaks from guys like Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario happened often but never at once. The bullpen, which started the season as one of the best, lost its luster midway through the season, failing to support an uncharacteristically above average rotation.

    However, fans should realize that the future is bright and success near for the Rockies.

A Worsening NL West

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    For the last decade, no division has been more consistently polarized than the NL West.

    In 2013, we’ve seen beginning of an overall decline in talent from all parties, Dodgers notwithstanding.

    Arizona, with the loss of Justin Upton this offseason, is on pace to score significantly fewer runs than 2012. After beginning the season red hot, the Diamondbacks have tailed off in the second half.

    The San Diego Padres, a team with a virtually nonexistent offense, have been unable to find answers in their rotation. Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner have fallen victim to a lackluster lineup, receiving little run support.

    The rest of the rotation, including the newly acquired Ian Kennedy, doesn’t appear to be stable enough for long-term success.

    The biggest surprise in the division this year goes to the San Fransico Giants and their abysmal pitching staff. After posting a team ERA of 3.68 last season, the Giants are allowing 4.13 runs every nine innings in 2013.

    Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong have been unable to repeat last year’s success on the mound, while Tim Lincecum is mirroring his poor 2012 campaign. A Giants offense that scored 718 runs last season has scored just 538 so far.

    The Rockies are in the midst of another disappointing season, but the improvement is difficult to overlook. After a 98-loss team last year, the 66 wins this season shows the Rockies are better off under Walt Weiss.

    If the Rockies can continue to grow as a team and bring all the individual pieces into one, they could make some noise as soon as next season.

Proven Youth

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    This season Rockies fans were introduced to some of the most coveted young talent Colorado’s farm system has to offer.

    Third base has been a perennial hole in the Rockies infield. Instead of trying to fill the spot with veteran talent like they’ve done in the past, Weiss found an internal solution to the problem.

    Nolan Arenado has cemented himself as the Rockies long-term third baseman with his impressive rookie campaign.

    The slick fielding and durable 22-year-old is batting .269 with 10 homers and 47 RBI this season. Arenado trails only the Dodgers Yasiel Puig in WAR among rookies.

    In the wake of the Gonzalez finger injury, Corey Dickerson has stepped up and delivered.

    After struggling out of the gate, Dickerson is hitting .323 since the All-Star break and batting .500 in September.

    Dickerson, who was one of the Rockies most sought-after outfield prospects, is proving he deserves to be in the consideration to start next season. Overall, he’s batting .295 with three homers and 11 RBI on the season.

Prospects on Fire

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    At the beginning of this season, Baseball America ranked the Rockies’ farm system No. 21 in baseball.

    As we reflect on the Minor League Baseball season that was, the Rockies' organization has exceeded initial expectations.

    Top prospects have shown improvement and put up league-leading numbers.

    Jonathan Gray, the Rockies’ top prospects and third overall pick in this year’s draft, has pitched masterfully, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.93 ERA this season.

    Eddie Butler spent his minor league season bouncing around from team to team, but still managed a microscopic 1.80 ERA combined.

    Shortstop prospect Rosell Herrera tore up Single-A, batting .343 with 16 homers and 76 RBI.

    Other top prospects, like Tom Murphy, Kyle Parker and even Ryan McMahon, are showing growth and putting up monster numbers.

    Guys like Butler, Murphy and Parker could see the majors within the next year or two.

Improvement under Jim Wright

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    Last season the Rockies starting rotation was not only worst in the league, it was one of the worst in the history of the game.

    The rotation, if you even want to call it that, posted a 5.81 ERA, while the offense proved to be one of the best in baseball.

    Since Jim Wright took over the helm as pitching coach, the rotation is allowing a whole run-and-a-half less per nine innings. It also features three pitchers with sub-3.50 ERAs and a guy tied for the NL lead in wins.

    The improvement is remarkable, and the poise of Wright’s rotation undeniable.

    Even the bullpen has improved, posting a 3.98 ERA.

    If the Rockies can address the closer’s role, and possibly look into acquiring another starter this offseason, the numbers should only continue to improve.

O’Dowd Forced to Deal This Offseason

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    With all the young talent on display and brewing in the farm system, Dan O’Dowd is going to be forced to make some moves this offseason.

    Rockies fans have become accustomed to passive off-seasons and trade deadlines over the years. However, this time around, O’Dowd may not have a choice.

    Fowler’s health has been in question this season. He’s been unable to stay consistently healthy down the stretch and his numbers have suffered as a result.

    Fowler is batting just .216 since the All-Star break and has looked uncomfortable at the dish. While Fowler struggles with his health and with the bat, Dickerson is making his case as a more viable option for the everyday job.

    A healthy Fowler could merit some trade value this offseason.

    It’s no secret that the Rockies are a starting pitcher and some middle relief away from being a legitimate contender in the West.

    A couple of carefully thought-out moves could bring them to that next level.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @cucch22

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