The Colorado Rockies finished the first week of the Major League Baseball season with a 5-1 record, but what does that mean? That’s a difficult question to answer after only six games, but there might be some reasons for hope.
Before we get to those reasons for hope, a couple of words of caution. Number one, it is only six games and there are 156 games to go. Secondly, the Rockies posted that record versus the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. The Brewers are a decent team and could contend for a wild card spot so taking two out of three from them is nothing to sneeze at. The Padres, however, are terrible, and the Rockies did exactly what they were supposed to do versus a bad team, sweep them.
The most pleasant surprise through the first week of the season is the starting rotation. Again, it’s very early, but all of the starters except Jorge de la Rosa have gone at least six innings and have been extremely effective. Jhoulys Chacin was brilliant in Sunday’s win over the Padres, and that followed solid efforts by Juan Nicaso, Jeff Francis and John Garland.
There are going to be rough starts ahead for all of these guys, but if they can continue to give manager Walt Weiss six or seven competitive innings on a regular basis, then this team could be better than anyone predicted.
In addition to the starters, the bullpen has been terrific. Minus an opening day hiccup that is the only thing standing between the Rockies and a 6-0 start, the pen has been as good as advertised. The starters are getting into the sixth or seventh inning and the relievers are all doing their jobs. Matt Belisle has been almost unhittable and closer Rafael Betancourt is perfect in four save situations.
The biggest reason for the Rockies and their fans to be excited is the offense because it might be better than expected and that’s saying something. The ability to hit the baseball was always the strength of this team, but through six games it has been lethal. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are healthy and swinging the bat as well as they have in two years. Tulowitzki is one of the top 10 players in the game, and when he is playing well, the Rockies are going to be competitive. As great as he is on the field, it is Tulowitzki’s drive and will to win that might be the most important thing he brings to the clubhouse.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are leading the offense, but they are getting plenty of help. Dexter Fowler hit four home runs in the first week, and he looks like he is on the verge of becoming a star. Catcher Willn Rosario might be the best young catcher in the game, and he hits the baseball as far as anyone. Throw in the power of Michael Cuddyer and the professionalism of Todd Helton and the Rockies have a very dangerous offense. Even in Sunday’s win, without Tulowitzki, Helton and Cuddyer, the offense put up nine runs and hit the ball all over the park.
A 5-1 start is great, better than anyone expected, but the real test begins on Monday night when the Rockies travel to take on the San Francisco Giants. The Rockies, historically, do not play well in San Francisco and the Giants are the defending World Series Champions. The Rockies do not need to sweep or even take two out of three from the Giants, but if they want to take the next step, they have to play well on the road versus good teams. They get that chance starting on Monday.
The season is only six games old, but the Rockies have at least given their fans something to grasp onto; hope.
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