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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies fell into a familiar pattern in 2013, scoring plenty of runs, but not enough to win even as many as 75 games. With a lineup featuring Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, a resurgent Michael Cuddyer and young backstop Wilin Rosario, they ranked second in runs scored in the National League. The failures of the pitching staff yet again played a prominent role in the team's last-place finish.

With their home games played in the thin air of Denver, the Rockies may never be able to rectify their pitching woes. In past years, the Rockies have tried to take the edge off the impact of their home park's altitude by relying on ground ball pitchers (remember Mike Hampton?), and they are taking that route again this season. In a swap of southpaws, the team dealt Drew Pomeranz to the Athletics for veteran Brett Anderson, who owns a career 55 percent ground ball rate (per FanGraphs.com). Just maybe the deal can help to stabilize a pitching corps that already includes solid middle-of-the-rotation types Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa as well as 24-year-old sinkerballer Tyler Chatwood, but Anderson will first have to stay healthy. Given that he has pitched only 275 1/3 innings over his last four seasons combined, that will be no small feat for Anderson.

2014 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 back of the rotation could be entrusted to a familiar face like Juan Nicasio or Christian Friedrich, though offseason acquisitions Franklin Morales and Jordan Lyles could be in the mix as well. The Rockies also signed LaTroy Hawkins, who finished last season as the Mets' closer and appears primed to take over the same role.

The lineup will have a slightly different look as well, as first baseman Todd Helton retired and outfielder Dexter Fowler was shipped to the Astros. Justin Morneau signed as a free agent to take over for Helton, but even with the move to Coors Field, the former Pirate and Twin is no more than a late-round option. The Rockies are planning on looking to internal options to fill the void left by Fowler. Gonzalez will most likely move from left to center field, and Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon, who served as reserve outfielders last season, will vie to be regulars in left field. Dickerson in particular has some late-round appeal in Rotisserie leagues, as he could hit for power and average.

Even in the face of persistent injury issues, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez remain viable as early-round picks, and despite the lack of draftable pitchers, the Rockies offer a variety of standard mixed league options beyond their two superstars. Aside from DJ Lemahieu, who could beat out Josh Rutledge for second base job, everyone in the Rockies' lineup is a worthwhile use of a pick in a standard mixed Roto league.

Bust ... Michael Cuddyer, outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Corey Dickerson LF
2. DJ Lemahieu 2B
3. Carlos Gonzalez CF
4. Troy Tulowitzki SS
5. Michael Cuddyer RF
6. Justin Morneau 1B
7. Wilin Rosario C
8. Nolan Arenado 3B
Bench Josh Rutledge 2B
Bench Drew Stubbs OF

Cuddyer gained some notoriety by winning the National League batting title last year, and to his credit, he was a tougher out than usual in part due to hiking his line drive rate up to 23 percent from his career mark of 18 percent (per Baseball-Reference.com). However, Cuddyer didn't improve as a contact or power hitter, and he also benefitted from hitting .330 on grounders. Even if he sustains an elevated line drive rate -- which is not a good assumption to make in the first place -- he probably won't hit that well on ground balls again. Some may look to Cuddyer as a top 30 outfielder based on last year's results, but he will need some good breaks again just to crack the top 40.

Buyer beware ... Nolan Arenado, third base

Arenado acquitted himself pretty well for a 22-year-old rookie last season, but he showed that he still has a long way to go to approach the power and contact ratios he put up in some of his minor league stops. Not unexpectedly, Arenado's numbers at Coors Field were far more promising than those from his road games, as both his power (.115 Isolated Power, similar to that of Alberto Callaspo) and plate discipline (0.20 BB/K ratio) were subpar away from Colorado. Arenado is still young enough to deliver on the promise of home run power and crazy-low strikeout rates that he raised as a prospect, but until he can produce on the road, he may not even pay off as a late- or reserve-round flier.

Closer-in-waiting ... Rex Brothers, relief pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Jorge De La Rosa LHP
2. Jhoulys Chacin RHP
3. Brett Anderson LHP
4. Tyler Chatwood RHP
5. Juan Nicasio RHP
ALT Christian Friedrich LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. LaTroy Hawkins RHP
2. Rex Brothers LHP
3. Matt Belisle RHP
4. Boone Logan LHP
5. Wilton Lopez RHP

After having served as the Rockies' primary closer during last season's second half, it seemed like a slam dunk that Brothers would keep the ninth-inning role for the 2014 campaign. The Rockies left Fantasy owners stunned and confused when they brought Hawkins aboard this offseason to become their closer. While Hawkins is coming off a solid but aberrant season (his 1.15 WHIP was his lowest in nine years), Brothers did little to merit a demotion to a setup role. Having converted 19 of 21 save chances while posting a 1.74 ERA, it seems unfair that the Doobie Brothers and Dr. Joyce Brothers are now slated to get as many save opportunities as Rex. When the likely regression sets in for Hawkins, Brothers will be there to bring a closer-worthy skill set to his former job. The lefty may walk a few too many batters, but should more than make up for it with his strikeouts and ERA. Though he's a man without a closer's job for now, Brothers is worth drafting as a third reliever in standard mixed leagues.

Prospects Report

Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler are generally considered to be the Rockies' top prospects, and the righties could both find a place in Colorado's rotation as soon as midseason this year. Both are worth a late-rounder in NL-only leagues and are must-owns in dynasty leagues. ... Kyle Parker could join Gray and Butler in Denver this season, and the one-time Clemson quarterback could put up nice power numbers at Coors Field. He, too, can be targeted as an NL-only late-round flier. ... As is true for many young Rockies pitchers, Chad Bettis had a rough welcome to the big leagues last season, but he could make the opening day roster either in the rotation or bullpen. He's a late-round pick at best in NL-only leagues, but he could be productive if he rediscovers his command. ... Trevor Story has more to worry about than being blocked at shortstop by Troy Tulowitzki, as he had a difficult season in Advanced Class A. Now he has fellow 21-year-old Rosell Herrera on his heels, too. Both are still worthy dynasty league options. ... Catcher Tom Murphy and outfielders Raimel Tapia and David Dahl, the latter of whom missed most of last season with a torn hamstring, are also among the Rockies who should be drafted in dynasty formats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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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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