Colorado Rockies Preview 2024 — Climbing Back up the Mountain

Nolan Jones of the Rockies, someone the 2024 preview is high on.
(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Colorado Rockies Preview 2024

The Colorado Rockies open 2024 on the heels of the worst season in franchise history (59–103), one that saw them lose 100+ games for the first time ever. They enter 2024 mostly healthy, with the exception of two starting pitchers and two relievers. They do, however, have some young, athletic players giving them hope for improvement.

Injured Players

The Rockies open the 2024 season with four players, all pitchers, on the injured list. Starters German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela are both on the 60-day IL as they recover from Tommy John surgeries. Marquez should return at some point midseason, building to a full workload for the 2025 season. Senzatela, on the other hand, may not pitch in 2024 at all, since his status is uncertain. Both have been key members of the pitching rotation, so the Rockies will certainly miss them and their contributions.

Relievers Daniel Bard and Lucas Gilbreath open the season on the 15-day IL. Bard is recovering from an arthroscopic knee procedure he received in February, while Gilbreath is still recovering from a March 2023 Tommy John surgery. Both have recently begun playing catch and are expected to return sometime in April or May. Bard struggled in 2023, largely with his command, after having a great 2022.

2023 Statistics

Marquez (60-day IL) — 2–2, 4.95 ERA, 98 ERA-minus, 4 GS, 20 IP, 17 K (21.3%), 3 BB (3.8%), 17.5 K–BB%, 1.100 WHIP, 25 QS%, 1 WChp, 0 LTuf, 0 WLst, 0 LSv, 5 IP/GS, 3.9 RS/9, 0.2 WAR.

Senzatela (60-day IL) — 0–1, 4.70 ERA, 93 ERA-minus, 2 GS, 7 2/3 IP, 4 K (13.3%), 2 BB (6.7%), 6.7 K–BB%, 1.174 WHIP, 0 QS%, 0 WChp, 0 LTuf, 0 WLst, 1 LSv, 3 2/3 IP/GS, 0.0 RS/9, 0.1 WAR.

Bard — 4.56 ERA, 90 ERA-minus, 50 GR, 38 ScOtg, 76.0 ScOtg%, 49 1/3 IP, 47 K (20.3%), 49 BB (21.1%), –0.9 K–BB%, 4-of-14 IRS (29%), 1-of-3 saves (33%), 9–2 GE–BE (4.5 GE/BE), 1.703 WHIP, 0.1 WAR.

Gilbreath did not play in 2023 (injury).
Gilbreath* (2022) — 4.19 ERA, 90 ERA-minus, 47 GR, 35 ScOtg, 74.5 ScOtg%, 43 IP, 49 K (26.2%), 26 BB (13.9%), 12.3 K–BB%, 16-of-30 IRS (53%), 0-of-2 saves (0%), 13–5 GE–BE (2.6 GE/BE), 1.465 WHIP, 0.5 WAR.

* = left-handed pitcher

Rockies Catchers

Elias Diaz, the 2023 All-Star Game MVP, returns as the primary Rockies catcher for 2024. As a backup, the Rockies have former Pirate and Marlin Jacob Stallings. Diaz is the better hitter of the two, while Stallings is a better defender. Take this with a grain of salt, however, as Diaz rated nearly two runs below league average in run production last season. Stallings was a much better defender than Diaz, yes, but Diaz was 16 runs below league average in defense. This means that Stallings, a league-average defender, is a vast improvement.

2023 Statistics

Diaz — 141 G, 526 PA, .267 AVG (130-for-486)/.316 OBP/.409 SLG, 48 R, 25 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 1/1 SB/Att (100%), 34 BB, 118 SO, .314 wOBA, –1.8 wRAA, –16 DRS, 1.4 WAR.

Stallings (with Marlins) — 88 G, 276 PA, .191 (46-for-241)/.278/.286, 22 R, 14 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 0/0 SB/Att (— %), 27 BB, 67 SO, .256 wOBA, –14.2 wRAA, 0 DRS, –0.6 WAR.

Rockies Infielders

The 2024 Rockies infield will feature Ryan McMahon at third, Ezequiel Tovar at shortstop, Brendan Rodgers at second, and a trio of first basemen. This trio includes Kris Bryant, Michael Toglia, and Elehuris Montero. Utility infielder Alan Trejo will also see time at second, short, and third.

Defensively, this infield is among the league’s best. McMahon had 17 runs saved in 2023, and Tovar added 13. Rodgers, injured most of the season, had –1, but he won the Gold Glove in 2022 with a runs-saved value of 22. Of the first basemen, Montero — with three runs saved in 2023 — is the best defender, with Bryant and Toglia both posting –1 runs saved in 2023.

Offense is a different story. Of the listed infielders, only McMahon (3.4 weighted runs above average, or wRAA) produced runs at or above league average. Furthermore, both Toglia (–11.7) and Tovar (–10.2) had negative double digits in run production. When they do reach base, however, they will be threats to steal bases.

2023 Statistics

Bryant — 80 G, 335 PA, .233 (70-for-300)/.313/.367, 36 R, 10 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 0/0 SB/Att (— %), 29 BB, 68 SO, .302 wOBA, –4.6 wRAA, –1 DRS (1B), –7 DRS (OF), –1.0 WAR.

McMahon* — 152 G, 627 PA, .240 (133-for-555)/.322/.431, 80 R, 31 2B, 3 3B, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB/10 Att (50%), 68 BB, 198 SO, .325 wOBA, 3.4 wRAA, 17 DRS, 2.9 WAR.

Montero — 85 G, 307 PA, .243 (69-for-284)/.290/.426, 40 R, 15 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 0/0 SB/Att (— %), 15 BB, 111 SO, .306 wOBA, –3.0 wRAA, 3 DRS, –0.1 WAR.

Rodgers — 46 G, 192 PA, .258 (46-for-178)/.313/.388, 21 R, 9 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 0/0 SB/Att (— %), 11 BB, 41 SO, .307 wOBA, –1.9 wRAA, –1 DRS, 0.1 WAR.

Toglia # — 45 G, 152 PA, .163 (23-for-141)/.224/.284, 18 R, 5 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 1/2 SB/Att (50%), 10 BB, 50 SO, .225 wOBA, –11.7 wRAA, –1 DRS (1B), –1 DRS (OF), –1.5 WAR.

Tovar — 153 G, 615 PA, .253 (147-for-581)/.287/.408, 79 R, 37 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 11/16 SB/Att (69%), BB, SO, .298 wOBA, –10.2 wRAA, 13 DRS, 2.5 WAR.

Trejo — 82 G, 227 PA, .232 (48-for-207)/.288/.343, 24 R, 11 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 5/6 SB/Att (83%), 16 BB, 51 SO, .277 wOBA, –7.7 wRAA, 3 DRS, 0.0 WAR.

* = left-handed hitter
# = switch hitter

Rockies Outfielders

Left fielder Nolan Jones and center fielder Brenton Doyle give the Rockies a bright future in the outfield, as 2024 will be the first full season in which the Rockies have both on the roster. Jones was the Rockies’ best all-around player in 2023, producing 27.0 more runs than the league average. Defensively, he saved 10 runs in 106 games.

Doyle brings elite defense to the table, having won the NL Gold Glove in a runaway. His offensive run production, however, was nearly 22 runs below league average. After a promising spring training, expect to see that improve. Doyle and Jones both will be base-stealing threats when they reach base.

Bryant, Toglia, Blackmon, and newly acquired Jake Cave will split time in right field. Of the four, only Blackmon produced runs above league average in 2023. Defensively, Blackmon and Cave are both slightly above league average. Toglia is slightly below league average, and Bryant is seven runs below league average.

2023 Statistics

Blackmon* — 96 G, 413 PA, .279 (100-for-359)/.363/.440, 57 R, 24 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 4/5 SB/Att (80%), 39 BB, 55 SO, .350 wOBA, 10.8 wRAA, 2 DRS, 1.3 WAR

Cave* (with Phillies) — 65 G, 203 PA, .212 (39-for-184)/.272/.348, 18 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 3/3 SB/Att (100%), 15 BB, 55 SO, .271 wOBA, –8.0 wRAA, 3 DRS (OF), –1 DRS (1B), –0.2 WAR

Doyle — 126 G, 431 PA, .203 (81-for-399)/.250/.343, 48 R, 16 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 22/27 SB/Att (81%), BB, SO, .257 wOBA, –21.9 wRAA, 19 DRS, 0.9 WAR

Jones* — 106 G, 424 PA, .297 (109-for-367)/.389/.542, 60 R, 22 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 62 RBI, 20/24 SB/Att (83%), 53 BB, 126 SO, .395 wOBA, 27.0 wRAA, 10 DRS, 4.3 WAR

* = left-handed hitter

Designated Hitter Options

Blackmon will likely be the most-used designated hitter for the Rockies in 2024. However, Bryant, Montero, and Toglia could also see significant usage in this role.

Rotation

The Rockies rotation will be anchored by lefty Kyle Freeland. Following him will be a newcomer, righty Cal Quantrill. The third member of the rotation will be another lefty, Austin Gomber, followed by right-hander Ryan Feltner. Rounding out the rotation will be another newcomer, right-hander Dakota Hudson.

Even after adjusting for the high run-scoring environment of Coors Field, the entire Rockies rotation allowed more runs than the league average, something that must change for their record to improve. All five also have a WHIP higher than league average, which is around 1.300 every season. Additionally, none of the starters averaged six or more innings per start in 2023, which led to an overtaxed group of relievers.

2023 Statistics

Freeland* — 6–14, 5.03 ERA, 100 ERA-minus, 29 GS, 155 2/3 IP, 94 K (%), 42 BB (%), K–BB%, 1.471 WHIP, 41 QS%, 2 WChp, 4 LTuf, 3 WLst, 4 LSv, 5 1/3 IP/GS, 3.3 RS/9, 1.6 WAR

Quantrill (with Guardians) — 4–7, 5.24 ERA, 125 ERA-minus, 19 GS, 99 2/3 IP, 58 K (13.1%), 35 BB (7.9%), 5.2 K–BB%, 1.465 WHIP, 42 QS%, 1 WChp, 0 LTuf, 3 WLst, 5 LSv, 5 1/3 IP/GS, 2.7 RS/9, –0.1 WAR

Gomber* — 9–9, 5.50 ERA, 109 ERA-minus, 27 GS, 139 IP, 87 K (%), 43 BB (%), K–BB%, 1.489 WHIP, 44 QS%, 3 WChp, 2 LTuf, 5 WLst, 4 LSv, 5 IP/GS, 4.7 RS/9, 1.0 WAR

Feltner — 2–4, 5.82 ERA, 115 ERA-minus, 10 GS, 43 1/3 IP, 38 K (%), 28 BB (%), K–BB%, 1.685 WHIP, 10 QS%, 1 WChp, 0 LTuf, 1 WLst, 1 LSv, 4 1/3 IP/GS, 4.3 RS/9, 0.1 WAR

Hudson (with Cardinals) — 6–3, 4.98 ERA, 117 ERA-minus, 12 GS, 81 1/3 IP, 45 K (12.7%), 34 BB (9.6%), 3.1 K–BB%, 1.500 WHIP, 33 QS%, 3 WChp, 0 LTuf, 1 WLst, 1 LSv, 5 1/3 IP/GS, 5.6 RS/9, 0.5 WAR

* = left-handed pitcher

Relief Corps

Justin Lawrence begins the 2024 season as the Rockies closer. In 2023, he was lights-out when he was on. But when he was off, he struggled immensely. Obviously, the Rockies need the former version in order to be successful.

Setting him up will be Tyler Kinley, who was among the NL’s best relievers in 2022 before his elbow injury. He came back at the tail end of 2023 but showed obvious signs of rust. Spring Training 2024 saw him mostly put up strong numbers.

Newcomer Jalen Beeks will be the only lefty in the Rockies ‘pen as the 2024 season starts. Joining him in middle relief will be Jake Bird, Nick Mears, rookie Anthony Molina, and Victor Vodnik. Peter Lambert will start the season as the long man. Additionally, Lambert could spot-start when needed.

2023 Statistics

Beeks* (with Rays) — 5.95 ERA, 146 ERA-minus, 22 GR, 31 ScOtg, 59.1 ScOtg%, 42 1/3 IP, 47 K (24.5%), 21 BB (10.9%), 13.5 K–BB%, 1-of-11 IRS (9%), 1-of-2 saves (50%), 3–1 GE–BE (3.0 GE/BE), 1.488 WHIP, –0.7 WAR

Bird — 4.33 ERA, 86 ERA-minus, 67 GR, 43 ScOtg, 64.2 ScOtg%, 89 1/3 IP, 77 K (20.2%), 27 BB (7.1%), 13.1 K–BB%, 24-of-42 IRS (57%), 0-of-11 saves (0%), 13–3 GE–BE (4.3 GE/BE), 1.354 WHIP, 1.0 WAR

Kinley (2023) — 6.06 ERA, 120 ERA-minus, 18 GR, 12 ScOtg, 66.7 ScOtg%, 16 1/3 IP, 17 K (22.4%), 6 BB (7.9%), 14.5 K–BB%, 1-of-7 IRS (14%), 5-of-7 saves (71%), GE–BE (GE/BE), 1.653 WHIP, –0.1 WAR

Kinley (2022) — 0.75 ERA, 16 ERA-minus, 25 GR, 23 ScOtg, 92.0 ScOtg%, 24 IP, 27 K (27.0%), 6 BB (6.0%), 21.0 K–BB%, 3-of-8 IRS (38%), 0-of-0 saves (— %), 11–1 GE–BE (11.0 GE/BE), 1.125 WHIP, 1.1 WAR

Lambert — 5.36 ERA, 106 ERA-minus, 14 GR, 4 ScOtg, 28.6 ScOtg%, 87 1/3 IP, 71 K (18.9%), 28 BB (7.5%), 11.5 K–BB%, 4-of-9 IRS (44%), 0-of-0 saves (— %), 0–0 GE–BE (— GE/BE), 1.385 WHIP, 0.5 WAR

Lawrence — 3.72 ERA, 74 ERA-minus, 69 GR, 49 ScOtg, 71.0 ScOtg%, 75 IP, 78 K (23.9%), 36 BB (11.0%), 12.9 K–BB%, 9-of-43 IRS (21%), 11-of-18 saves (61%), 26–6 GE–BE (4.3 GE/BE), 1.347 WHIP, 1.4 WAR

Mears — 3.72 ERA, 74 ERA-minus, 16 GR, 10 ScOtg, 62.5 ScOtg%, 19 1/3 IP, 21 K (24.1%), 14 BB (16.1%), 8.1 K–BB%, 1-of-2 IRS (50%), 0-of-0 saves (— %), 1–2 GE–BE (0.5 GE/BE), 1.448 WHIP, 0.3 WAR

Molina has yet to play in the majors.

Vodnik — 8.31 ERA, 165 ERA-minus, 6 GR, 2 ScOtg, 33.3 ScOtg%, 8 2/3 IP, 12 K (27.3%), 3 BB (6.8%), 20.5 K–BB%, 0-of-2 IRS (0%), 0-of-0 saves (— %), 0–0 GE–BE (— GE/BE), 2.077 WHIP, –0.2 WAR

* = left-handed pitcher

Season Outlook

The Rockies find themselves in the NL West gauntlet. With the super-team Los Angeles Dodgers as the heavy favorites, and the Arizona Diamondbacks — holders of the 2023 NL Pennant — right behind the Dodgers, the division is tough enough. However, the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants have made moves to try and stay competitive as well. There is a tough road ahead for the Rockies to climb the mountain back to prominence. If they avoid the plague of injuries that besieged them in 2023, they should avoid dropping 100 games, but even finishing .500 will probably be a tall order. However, the young players they have coming up should at least be entertaining.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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