The Colorado Rockies will not be competitive in 2023. The team won’t be close to winning the NL West division, nor will they even have a chance of a playoff berth. Betting odds do not have the team going to the playoffs or even playing .500 baseball. According to Vegas Insider, the Rockies have an over/under set at 71 1/2 games and as the sixth worse team in the National League.
Despite that, Rockies owner Dick Monfort thinks the team is good enough to play .500 ball, despite having a nothing offseason. Montfort, however, is confident in the direction the team is trending, believing it to be positive and better than last year. If the team plays up to their owners’ high hopes, four players are the key to that success. Two hitters in Kris Byrant and the youngster Ezequiel Tovar, and two pitches in Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland.
Rockies 2023 Success
The big free agent signing after the team moved on from their former franchise players in, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, is the projected best hitter in the lineup next season. Previously, it was outlined why Bryant is poised for a bounce-back 2023 season and think that if he truly does bounce back, he will be extremely vital to any team’s success.
Bryant is coming off a season riddled with injuries in his first year in the purple and black, but career trends point to his ability to be an All-Star-level hitter in terms of production if he stays healthy. A healthy Kris Bryant is a hitter that can lead a team to wins based on his production alone, but there is only so much he can do.
Ezequiel Tovar is the most exciting player in the projected 2023 Rockies lineup. He is a 21-year-old shortstop with good fielding, hit and speed tools. While he may never be an MVP type of player, he is who the team believes is capable of taking over for the production left from Story’s departure.
2023 will see some growing pains as Tovar adjusts to major league pitching, but if he can maintain an OPS+ of above 100 and keep playing good defense, it will undoubtedly be a sign of positive things to come in the future years.
Entering a contract year, Germán Márquez is by far the best pitcher the Rockies have had since Ubaldo Jiménez. An All-Star in 2021, Márquez’s ERA ballooned up to 4.95 last season, and he struggled with giving up big hits.
However, he has some nasty stuff and has the potential to be one of the better pitchers in the NL West if everything goes right. Being in a contract year, he is as motivated as ever to do well and get the most money possible when he is free agency eligible.
Despite pitching in Coors Field, he pitched to a 3.77 ERA in 2018 and a 3.75 ERA in 2020. If he can maintain a season ERA of below 4.00 and get over 200 strikeouts as he did in 2018, he will make his second career All-Star team and be key to the Rockies’ success.
The final key to the Rockies’ success in 2023 is a pitcher who nearly won a Cy Young and then proceeded to be unable to stay at the major league level for an extended period. In 2018, Freeland went 17-7 over 202 1/3 innings while maintaining a 2.85 ERA, his 166 ERA+ was among the best in baseball, and his future looked bright then.
Since then, his ERA+ by season has been 77, 120, 111 and 103. The previous three seasons have been alright but have not been the same as in 2018. While it is impossible to expect him to return to peak form, it is not far-fetched to believe he can climb below a 4.00 ERA.
If all four players play to their maximum potential, the team will reach Monfort’s prediction of a .500 ball. If not, the team may play another season at the bottom of the NL West.
Main Photo Credit:
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ezequiel Tovar, Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Ubaldo Jiménez