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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Colorado Rockies

Senior Fantasy Writer
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While the Colorado Rockies, losers of 98 games in 2012, may not be good in actual baseball, they have several gems for Fantasy owners to consider heading into 2013. Last season saw the breakout of Dexter Fowler (.300 average, 13 home runs, 12 steals), the re-emergence of Tyler Colvin (.290 average with 18 home runs in 420 at-bats) and the dual introductions of young bats Josh Rutledge (eight home runs and 20 doubles in 277 at-bats) and Wilin Rosario (28 home runs in 396 at-bats). With superstar Troy Tulowitzki held to 47 games as he dealt with injuries and slugger Carlos Gonzalez having a down year (although a .303 average, 22 home runs and 20 steals would be a welcome line for many other players) as he battled hamstring issues and the absence of Tulowitzki in the lineup, this year's version of the Rockies are chock-full of exciting offensive Fantasy options. Rosario looks primed to build on his power numbers, Fowler should at least meet his output from 2012, Rutledge had a late-season slump but will pick up second base eligibility and be batting in a stronger lineup with Tulowitzki back and Colvin is a great source of underrated power.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

The problem? Pitching. Things got so bad in 2012 that the Rockies employed an unprecedented, unorthodox "piggyback" rotation plan -- having four starters throw about 75-80 pitches, then give way to a series of relievers. It had far from humidor-style effects, as only two pitchers of the 14 who started a game for the Rockies last year -- Jhoulys Chacin (4.43) and Drew Pomeranz (4.93) -- carried an ERA below 5.00 on the season. The Rockies had originally insisted that they would continue the piggyback experiment in 2013, but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby reported in mid- September that the system would be scrapped in favor of a more traditional five-man rotation. Of course, the story notes that the hybrid/piggyback relievers -- essentially long relievers on a schedule who come into the game when a starter is about to face a lineup for the third time -- are still around, meaning rotation members could get yanked early (despite the team saying pitchers should last 90 or 100 pitches), when that lineup rears its head for a third time. While Fantasy players should be overjoyed at the experiment being put down -- Jorge De La Rosa, for instance, is now just back to being a mediocre pitcher, as opposed to a mediocre pitcher with severe innings limits -- it was an interesting idea: the restricted quirkiness made for more two-start weeks, meaning more opportunity for wins and strikeouts -- even though the truncated starts threatened those exact system benefits.

The Colorado bullpen, meanwhile, boasts a couple non-hybrid gems, in the form of closer Rafael Betancourt, who managed a 2.81 ERA and 31 saves in 2012, and Rex Brothers, who struck out 83 batters in 67 2/3 innings while winning eight games in relief. While Betancourt will just slide into the middle of the rankings among Fantasy's other closers, Brothers may turn out to be one of the more valuable low- ratio/high-strikeout middle relievers in the National League, who could assume closer duties if Betancourt is traded from the Rockies -- a middling team in a tough division -- at the deadline. In short, if there are two pitchers you want on this team, they would be Betancourt and Brothers. If there is a third pitcher, it just might be this guy...

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Dexter Fowler CF
2. Josh Rutledge 2B
3. Carlos Gonzalez LF
4. Troy Tulowitzki SS
5. Michael Cuddyer RF
6. Tyler Colvin 1B
7. Wilin Rosario C
8. Chris Nelson 3B
Bench Todd Helton 1B
Bench Jordan Pacheco IF/C
Bench Eric Young OF

Breakout candidate ... Drew Pomeranz, starting pitcher

While Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Jorge De La Rosa have all shown some degree of promise, 24-year-old Drew Pomeranz -- who was acquired as part of the 2011 Ubaldo Jimenez trade -- could be the ace emerging from this group. A top prospect heading into last season, Pomeranz had a career 1.96 ERA in 30 minor league starts before being given a shot in 2012. He was promptly kicked around in five appearances, sent back to the minors and called up again in July, where his childhood dreams of being a member of an experimental four-man rotation finally came true. With the piggyback strategy behind him, Pomeranz is no longer a strikeout pitcher burdened by pitch counts (which might have led to him pitching to contact and seeing his strikeout numbers dip). Instead, he's a strikeout pitcher entering his second season, and was surprisingly unaffected by the thin Denver air in 2012 (his home and road splits were nearly identical). Let your fellow drafters focus on Chacin, Nicasio and De La Rosa. Pomeranz should be a much better value on Draft Day and could end up being the best pitcher on the staff.

Very deep sleeper ... Ryan Wheeler, third baseman

Incumbent third baseman Chris Nelson hit .301 last year and top prospect Nolan Arenado got past some early struggles in the minors to finish with some respectable numbers in 2012. And the Rockies already have a full outfield and two capable first basemen. So why is Wheeler a (very deep) sleeper? He has a good deal of power and a career .313 batting average in over 1,600 minor league at-bats. He has twice produced an OPS above .955. He can even mix in some steals. Acquired from the Diamondbacks for reliever Matt Reynolds this winter, Wheeler can play first base, third base and the outfield. With the Rockies having a good deal of moving parts -- and the stadium playing to power-hitters once again -- Wheeler could make enough of an impact to slide in as a corner option for deep NL-only teams. And if he somehow supplants Nelson at third, he's immediately worthy of mixed league consideration.

Roto gem ... Tyler Colvin, outfielder/first baseman

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Jorge De La Rosa LHP
2. Jhoulys Chacin RHP
3. Drew Pomeranz LHP
4. Juan Nicasio RHP
5. Jeff Francis LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Rafael Betancourt RHP
2. Tyler Chatwood RHP
3. Rob Scahill RHP
4. Chris Volstad RHP
5. Rex Brothers LHP

The popular sentiment is that Todd Helton will start the season as Colorado's first baseman. Helton will be 40 this season and is coming off August hip surgery. He last saw 500 at-bats in 2009 and hasn't hit 20 home runs since 2005. He's hit .260 or below twice in the last three years. This isn't to knock Helton -- he's a 16-year veteran who carries a career .320 average. It's merely meant to point out that the Rockies have a 27-year-old power-hitting option who could easily supplant Helton and push him to bench duty. Colvin has hit 18 or more home runs twice in the last three years, despite never having more than 420 at-bats. He set a career high with a .290 batting average last year, while also setting career highs in doubles (27), triples (10), RBI (72), steals (seven) and OPS (.858). He can play outfield and first base (he's eligible at both for 2013). Helton has been with Colorado for a long time, but he may be better suited for a part-time role as he comes back from surgery. Colvin has a powerful bat and has the ability to hit for a nice average, as well. He will get playing time and should be given mixed league consideration this season, where his offensive stats make him a nice Roto option.

Prospects Report

No Colorado prospect discussion would be complete without the mention of Nolan Arenado, the third baseman who took a bit of a step back in 2012 (.285 with 12 home runs in more than 500 at-bats) after looking like he could be ready to beak out following strong 2011 (20 home runs and a .298 average) and 2010 (.308 with 12 home runs) campaigns. However, Arenado had his third straight season of 30 or more doubles and he remains a tantalizing prospect who should be grabbed late in keeper leagues. ... Trevor Story was ranked as the top organizational prospect by Baseball Prospectus, but is still at least a year or two away from making an impact. ... Pitcher Chad Bettis had been on the rise before a shoulder injury shut him down last April. He'll resume his promising career in the low levels and could find his way to the majors by 2014… The team's first-round pick in 2012, David Dahl hit .379 with 22 doubles and a 1.048 OPS in rookie ball last year. Just 18, Dahl could have an impact in 2015. ... Like Ryan Wheeler, Tim Wheeler has a power bat (he hit 33 home runs in 2011 at Tulsa), but was slowed by a broken hand in 2012 and saw his numbers dip. While Tim has more speed than Ryan, he's blocked by a full outfield. If the Rockies decide to trade, say, Michael Cuddyer late in the season, there's a chance Wheeler could be elevated for late-season at-bats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @nandocbs . You can also send us an e- mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: Orioles in 'continuous dialogue' with pitcher Chris Tillman
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) The Orioles and pitcher Chris Tillman are reportedly engaged in "continuous dialogue" for a long-term extension and have been for the past several weeks, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Tillman signed a one-year, $4.315 million deal in January to avoid arbitration and the discussions for a new deal are still considered preliminary, according to the report.

Tillman posted a 13-6 record in 2014 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts.


Tigers bullpen decision coming down to Ian Krol, Kyle Ryan
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is running out of time to finish off his bullpen for Opening Day. The final bullpen role will likely be a left-handed pitcher and is expected to come down to Kyle Ryan and Ian Krol, according to MLB.com.

"If I'm there, hopefully it's a good situation, whether it's long or short," Ryan said. "For them to have enough confidence in me to go into Spring Training as a reliever, and actually for them to believe that I might be able to make the team as a reliever, that makes me proud."

Ryan has given up seven runs on seven hits in 11 innings of work this spring. 

"When he throws it right, it's good," Ausmus said of Krol. "He has a tendency to occasionally slow his arm down on his cutter and curveball. He did it a couple times today. But when he doesn't slow his arm down, it's very good."


Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson continues to make his case
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson still doesn't know what his role will be when Opening Day rolls around, but he's showing he belongs on the roster, reports MLB.com.

"There's always stuff I need to work on, and I need to continue to impress," Pederson said after launching his fifth home run of the spring Saturday, boosting his batting average to .373.

Manager Don Mattingly remains quiet on what he will do when the decision has to be made, but Pederson is doing what he can to impress.

"[Opening Day] is out of my control," Pederson said. "It's something you dream about as a kid, playing in the big leagues, and you do anything you can to make that dream come true."


Angels P Matt Shoemaker gives up three runs in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) After pitching six scoreless innings in his last start, Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker struggled a bit in the team's 5-4 to the Dodgers, reports MLB.com.

Shoemaker gave up three runs on four hits in six innings, striking out two. One of the hits he surrended was to Joc Pederson on a two-run homer.

The 28-year-old completed last season with a 3.04 ERA, 124 strikeouts and only 24 walks.


Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels ready for Opening Day
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Reds third baseman Todd Frazier feels his swing has come back and is ready to tackle the long haul ahead of the regular season, reports MLB.com.

"It comes quick, like usual," Frazier said on Saturday morning. "I get goose bumps thinking about it right now -- another year, it's crazy."

Frazier struggled early in spring training, but has rebounded to go 8 for 23 in his last seven games.

"I hit in the Minor Leagues for about 10 at-bats [on Friday], just to try and feel it back-to-back. I do, and I feel really well," said Frazier, who is batting .262 in 14 games this spring. "I feel like if I had to play tomorrow [in the regular season], I'd be ready to go. It's all about preparation, and offseason stuff. I feel like it's so far, so good."


Angels OF Mike Trout homers in loss to Dodgers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Angels outfielder Mike Trout homered in Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Dodgers, reports MLB.com.

Trout, 23, robbed the Dodgers' Alex Guerrero of an extra-base hit in the first inning, making it a successful day for him, despite the loss. 

This spring he has a batting average of .477 with four home runs and 14 RBI. 


White Sox hope to have Robertson, Petricka back by Opening Day
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Two key members of the White Sox bullpen are working their way back from forearm injuries, but manager Robin Ventura is confident he'll have both back by opening day. 

Closer David Robertson is scheduled to pitch on Sunday. 

"We're trying to make sure we’re extra careful with him," Ventura said, per Comcast's Dan Hayes. "He doesn’t seem to be concerned about it as much as we do."

Setup man Jake Petricka isn't as far along as Robertson. He played catch on Saturday for the first time in five days.

The Sox are taking it slow, so that the team will have both pitchers for Opening Day as well as the rest of the season. 

"You’re just making sure you’re cautious enough that you feel good about when (they go) out there that there won’t be any setbacks,” Ventura said. 


Indians pitcher Zach McAllister fans nine in outing Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Indians pitcher Zach McAllister went five innings Saturday against the Brewers, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts. McAllister, who is expected to make one more start before Opening Day, touched 97 mph with his fastball in the appearance, according to Cleveland.com.

"He's been impressive and he's been doing it all spring," said Francona. "He's not just throwing strikes, he's down in the zone when he wants to and then he can elevate with some velocity. I think his hard work is really paying off."

McAllister has felt he always had the added velocity.

"Throughout my career I've always felt I've had a little more (velocity) in there if I could maintain it," said McAllister. "For whatever reason, whether it's being more consistent with my delivery or my arm action, I'm just trusting that when I let it go it's going to go where I want it to go. I'm not trying to place anything."


Pirates Pedro Alvarez looking to stick at first base
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez is hoping to stick at his new position after converting from third base, reports triblive.com.

On opening day, Alvarez will be the team's 54th first baseman in its 129-year history.

“It's a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view,” Alvarez said. “I need to get the reps in so the responsibilities that come with playing that position become second nature to me.”

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington talked about the team's past efforts of platooning the position.

“You can't develop something you don't have. You can't buy something you can't afford,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “That's why we've tried to platoon. Over the last couple of years, we've realized that's a challenge for a National League manager. Platoons are much harder here than they are in the American League, especially with a one-dimensional player who can only play one position.”

The hope around the organization is that they can get quality production from Alvarez.

“Our hope that is between Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart, we'll get quality major league production,” Huntington said.

The 28-year-old is batting .306 with two home runs, nine RBI and eight strikeouts this spring.


Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton can't find a rhythm Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton tossed six innings Saturday against the Blue Jays, allowing six hits, including two home runs and no strikeouts. Morton, who is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation, is still recovering from labrum surgery six months ago.

"Physically, Charlie is in a good place," manager Clint Hurdle said to MLB.com. "He is trying to make some mechanical adjustments in his delivery, but we don't have any health concerns about him."

Morton isn't worried about fixing mechanical issues just yet.

"Now is a tough time to put a lot of emphasis on mechanics," said Morton. "I gotta go pitch, adjustments or no adjustments."


 
 
 
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