It was the highest of highs, it was the lowest of lows… and the farthest of fars, too. After a decisive win on Wednesday softened the blow of a terrible road trip, the Mariners (and particularly their overtaxed bullpen) took a needed rest yesterday. Today they get back up and hope the reset, the Electric Factory, and the memory of the Clinch (a bobble head commemorating which you could snag tonight… if you’re already in line) can ignite a winning streak. Jarred “Jorts” Kelenic has caught some national attention with his hot start, Teoscar Hernandez has six hits in his last four games, and let’s not forget Ty France starting the year off characteristically hot. The bats are ready to host the Colorado Rockies for the first time since June 2021. The pitchers? Well, cross your fingers.
At a Glance
|Game 1||Friday, April 14 | 7:10 pm|
|LHP Austin Gomber||LHP Marco Gonzales|
|Game 2||Saturday, April 15 | 6:40 pm|
|RHP Ryan Feltner||RHP George Kirby|
|Game 3||Sunday, April 16 | 1:10 pm|
|RHP Noah Davis||RHP Luis Castillo|
|Batting (wRC+)||86 (13th in NL)||107 (4th in AL)||Mariners|
|Fielding (OAA)||-4 (9th)||1 (10th)||Mariners|
|Starting Pitching (FIP-)||108 (11th)||106 (8th)||Mariners|
|Bullpen (FIP-)||97 (6th)||95 (7th)||Mariners|
The Rockies finished 2022 last in the NL West, with a record of 68-94. Their roster was as bad as that record looks, with a pitiful offense (only one player over 2 fWAR) and a lack of pitching depth. Off-season moves shored up the latter, but the 2023 Colorado team still lacks offensive oomph. The front office took a thrifty but multifaceted approach, signing veterans (most notably Jurickson Profar late in spring) as well as trading for prospects (the headliner being shortstop Juan Brito for lauded infield prospect Nolan Jones). This year’s Rockies are most different from last when it comes to their farm system; the past year’s moves took a bottom-ten system to a top-15 one. What won’t be a winning team this year has pieces that generate excitement for the future; fans just hope the prospects get their due playing time this season with so many veterans on the roster. So far, Colorado’s record is as expected: 5-8, last in their division… and the same record as the M’s.
A series of injuries during Spring Training leaves the Rockies’ lineup looking very different than anticipated. Two outfielders are on the IL (Randal Grichuk and Sean Bouchard), and second baseman Brendan Rodgers will likely miss the season with a major shoulder injury. On the pitching side, closer Daniel Bard has spoken out about his struggles with anxiety putting him on the IL to start the season, and Opening Day starter Germán Márquez will miss at least a couple of starts due to a forearm strain earlier this week.
Colorado’s lineup is made up primarily of two types of players: veterans (many past their prime) and unproven prospects. The veterans include: Kris Bryant, who played in only 42 games last year for the Rockies, but projects for 2.0 fWAR this year if he can stay healthy. Charlie Blackmon, who’s been on the Rockies since Lyndon Johnson was president. Ryan McMahon, who led the team in fWAR last year and is projected to do so again, this time as the everyday second baseman in Rodgers’ absence. C.J. Cron, 2022 All Star first baseman with cavernous home/away splits. And of course Profar, who garnered 2.5 fWAR in 152 games for the Padres last year.
On the prospect end: Elehuris Montero debuted last year and struggled, putting up just 79 wRC+ in 53 games with many, many strikeouts. Rodgers’ injury opens up more playing time at third for Montero in his second season. 21-year-old shortstop and top Rockies prospect Ezequiel Tovar debuted late in September after spending most of the season with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats (yep) to the tune of a 153 wRC+. This year should be a test of the Rockies’ next wave, and Tovar will be put to that test. Many others ought to be, but it’s hard to find spots for them with roster logjams at first and in the outfield. The M’s will get to see Nolan Jones, however, who was called up when Márquez got injured. Jones had six home runs in ten games with Triple-A Albuquerque to start the season.
So what should we be watching for this weekend? The Rockies have guys who have proven they can hit for power, rookies with a lot to prove, and many names we’ve rarely seen in Seattle as the M’s have played Colorado rarely. The lineup has been shifting a lot game-to-game, so we may see several versions of the Rockies, past and future.
LHP Austin Gomber
Austin Gomber was one of the centerpieces of the Nolan Arenado trade a few years ago. His first season pitching with Coors Field as his home went about as well as it could have. He posted a career-high strikeout-to-walk ratio, kept the ball on the ground at a reasonable clip, and his park- and league-adjusted ERA ended up being about six percent better than league average. Things didn’t go so well for him last year. Be bounced between the rotation and the bullpen even though his strikeout-to-walk ratio was ever so slightly higher than it was the year prior. His undoing was some rotten batted ball luck and subsequent struggles with runners on base.
RHP Ryan Feltner
A fourth-round pick by the Rockies back in 2018, Ryan Feltner made his debut late in 2021 and had a solid year last year in his rookie campaign. Out of college, he was projected as a fastball-changeup reliever but he’s made some real progress developing his slider into a usable weapon as a starter. His confidence with his breaking ball is such that he’s actually throwing his once promising changeup the least in his five pitch repertoire. That kind of growth has shifted his outlook from a middle reliever to a back-end starter, though the lack of quality on his fastballs limits his ceiling.
RHP Noah Davis
Noah Davis was battling Feltner for the fifth spot in the Rockies rotation this spring but lost out and was sent back to Triple-A as the first man up on the shuttle back to the big leagues. After Germán Márquez left his last start with a forearm injury, Davis is the likeliest candidate to fill in. He throws from a pretty low arm slot which helps his fastball play up over its 93 mph average velocity and mixes in two distinct breaking balls to round out his arsenal.
The Big Picture:
The AL West
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
|Team||W-L||W%||Games Behind||Recent Form|
Since the last series, the M’s remain fourth in the division, going from 1.5 to 2.5 games back. The Angels and Rangers are still tied for first, Texas having swept Kansas City in three games, and the Angels taking two of three from the Nationals. The Astros got their first series win this week versus the Padres, and look to take over the division lead while hosting the Rangers for three games this weekend. The Angels head to a frustrated Boston to play four against the Red Sox, while the A’s take on the Mets after dropping three of four to the Orioles.