The title of the article poses a very interesting question for a team that is coming off a rough season, who has to go up against some of the toughest teams in baseball in their division.
Yet, the answer to this question is easy: Yes, they can. The explanation, however, is far more complicated.
The Colorado Rockies are coming off the organization’s first 100-loss season, and few indicators suggest they are positioned to make a run in 2024. After all, the Los Angeles Dodgers are building (another) juggernaut, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have improved on a team that just made it to the World Series.
The Rockies, meanwhile, are in the midst of a don’t-call-it-a-rebuild rebuild. While 2024 should see them making significant strides, it’s going to be a season of experimentation.
The starting rotation promises to be tenuous. Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela will miss most (if not all) of the season as they recover from Tommy John surgery. Right now, the Rockies look to start the season with a rotation of Kyle Freeland, Austin Gomber, Cal Quantrill, Ryan Feltner, and Peter Lambert. This rotation is going to be better than many people think, but these also aren’t pitchers folks are rushing to add to their fantasy leagues.
But here’s why you can expect the Colorado Rockies to be entertaining in the coming season.
The Rockies are going to let the kids play
Sure, veterans Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, and Ryan McMahon are expected to be everyday players, but there will be contests for playing time and prospects trying to break through from Triple-A Albuquerque.
For example, Elehuris Montero, Michael Toglia, and Hunter Goodman will be jockeying for playing time. Montero, when he’s right, is a powerful hitter; Toglia needs to decide if he should abandon switch hitting; and Goodman is probably the best pure hitter no one has heard of yet. (They will.)
Add to that Sean Bouchard, a talented outfielder who missed much of 2024 with a ruptured bicep, who will also be competing for regular playing time.
Waiting on the farm are prospects Jordan Beck, Zac Veen, Yanquiel Fernandez, Sterlin Thompson, and Benny Montgomery — and these are just the outfielders. The Rockies will probably call up catcher Drew Romo and second baseman Adael Amador later in the season.
Young pitchers will be showing up, too, probably after the All-Star Break: Look for the MLB debuts of Carson Palmquist, Joe Rock, and Case Williams and a host of other arms the Rockies acquired through trades in 2023.
The youngsters are going to shove, and they’re going to be fun to watch.
They have the best outfield in Rockies history
Center fielder Brenton Doyle won his first MLB Gold Glove, and by some metrics (e.g., Fielding Run Value), he was the best defensive player in baseball.
Add to that rookie Nolan Jones who has the best arm in baseball.
Suddenly, the Rockies have outfielders who can tame the beast of Coors Field. And they will select an able right fielder from their many options.
Plus, watching these guys play is just fun.
Then there are Gold Glove finalists Ryan McMahon and Ezequiel Tovar and 2022 winner Brendan Rodgers.
These guys are going to make plays. In fact, the Rockies turned 134 double plays in 2023, the most in baseball. And double plays are exciting.
The Rockies tend not to tolerate poor defense, and that will be true in 2024 as well.
Their bullpen will be better than most folks think
The Rockies bullpen was solid at the start of 2023 until injuries to the starting rotation led to overuse. (By September, it was just ugly — as in a league-worst 5.41 ERA.)
But in 2024, they’ll have Tyler Kinley, Jake Bird and Justin Lawrence. Lefty Lucas Gilbreath will be back from Tommy John surgery, and, hopefully, Daniel Bard will find that even-year magic again. Add to that Jalen Beeks, Matt Koch,and Nick Mears, and it’s a solid collection of relievers.
They will probably be busy at the trade deadline
Expect the 2024 Rockies to be active in July. Last season, Bill Schmidt made trades and (e.g., Mike Moustakas, CJ Cron, Randal Grichuk, Pierce Johnson, and Brad Hand) for a trove of young pitchers (e.g., Connor Van Scoyoc, Victor Vodnik, Tanner Gordon, Jake Madden, and Mason Albright).
Look for the Rockies to repeat this strategy as they make space for those younger players who will be knocking on the doors of Coors Field.
It’s not out of the question that the Rockies would consider moving Rodgers, Gomber, Quantrill, Beeks, Bard, and Elias Díaz.
It’s not impossible that the Rockies will, essentially, be two teams in 2024: Before the All-Star Break and after. Kris Bryant and Charlie Blackmon aren’t going anywhere, and it’s unlikely that Doyle, Jones, and Tovar will either. But any other player could be moved.
Games at Coors Field are never dull
Baseball at elevation is always unpredictable, and no lead is ever safe.
Plus, young players like Doyle, Jones, and Tovar are stealing bases and playing faster baseball. The team has gotten quicker and more athletic. Look for that trend to continue in 2024.
Coors Field is one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball — bar none — and there’s always Dinger.
The Rockies didn’t sign Shohei Ohtani or Eduardo Rodriguez or Jung Hoo Lee, but this should be a young, fun team to watch as they set the table for 2025.