In 2017, the Colorado Rockies snatched the last Wild card spot to make the postseason. Unfortunately for Rockies fans, they were bounced by the Diamondbacks in the Wild Card Game. Colorado’s chances to make the playoffs and advance may hinge on one player: shortstop Trevor Story.
Whenever a team has a player finish in the top five of the Rookie of the Year voting, they can often express confidence in that player’s success the following season. The Colorado Rockies had their expectations dashed as Trevor Story entered into a sophomore slump. Story’s batting average dropped from .272 in 2016 to .239 in 2015. Although he played in 48 more games last season, he hit three more home runs in 2016. Story needs to have a better year in 2018 to cement his status as Colorado’s everyday shortstop.
Restoring the Rockies
One reason why Story needs to pick up his offensive game is the losses Colorado has had this offseason. The main departure was catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who batted .310 in 45 games with the Rockies. Although he was acquired at the trade deadline, Lucroy was a critical part of the playoff push. Lucroy was replaced by Chris Iannetta, who hit .254 with the rival Diamondbacks in 2017. Iannetta, who is on his second stint with Colorado, will not provide the same offensive upside as Lucroy.
Despite the limited offensive loss, the Rockies have a lot to make up on the pitching side. Starter Tyler Chatwood joined the Chicago Cubs in the offseason. His loss is likely to be the least felt, as German Marquez and Kyle Freeland can fill his vacancy. The bullpen has had the biggest dent put in it. Pat Neshek‘s submarine style leaves Colorado with solely overhand pitchers. Greg Holland, although still a free agent, is unlikely to return to the Rockies. Holland’s departure left a gap at the closer position, which was quickly filled by former Cub Wade Davis. Neshek’s vacancy was filled by Brian Shaw, who came over from Cleveland. If either of these players fails to adjust to their new team, Story will have to make up for their deficiency with his offense.
One thing out of Colorado’s control is what the other teams in the playoff hunt can do. The NL Central has made the most significant strides to give the Rockies competition for a Wild Card slot.
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The Chicago Cubs have made the majority of their upgrades in the pitching department. They replaced the aging Jake Arrieta and John Lackey with the younger Yu Darvish and the aforementioned Chatwood. Beyond those two, they replaced Davis with both Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek.
Furthermore, the Milwaukee Brewers have made additions to their already stacked outfield. The rebuilding Marlins sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee in January, as well as adding Lorenzo Cain via free agency. They also added lefty Boone Logan in order to sure up their bullpen.
The St. Louis Cardinals have also made splashes this offseason. Like the Brewers, the Cardinals picked up a former Marlins outfielder via trade: Marcell Ozuna. Potential fifth starter Miles Milokas could provide an extra boost to push St. Louis over the edge.
With the additions made throughout the NL Central, Trevor Story’s resurgence is what the Colorado Rockies need to ensure a playoff spot has their name on it.