NL West Espionage: Padres vs. Colorado Rockies

Sep 24, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth (9) singles during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the 2023 season, we will preview how the Padres match up against each of their National League West rivals. Today, we review the situation with the Colorado Rockies.

2022 recap

The Rockies surprised many to open the season with a 12-9 record in the month of April. Reality set in after that. The signing of Kris Bryant to a giant, seven-year, $182 million contract ahead of last season left many scratching their heads at what direction the Rockies were headed. After all, they had just traded Nolan Arenado and let Trevor Story walk.

Bryant’s first season in Denver was a total disaster. He played in just 42 games and never hit a single home run at his home park of Coors Field. The Rockies imploded around a weak roster top to bottom. They went 68-94, which put them in last place in the NL West.

A few players still stuck out. C.J. Cron had a career year with 29 homers, 102 RBI, with a career-high 148 hits. Daniel Bard emerged as one of the best closers in baseball, with 34 saves and a 1.79 ERA.

On the other side, former highly-regarded prospect German Marquez took a step back on the mound with a career-worst 4.95 ERA and 94 ERA+. No Rockies starter who made at least 17 starts had an ERA lower than 4.53.

They bottomed out after the All-Star break, going 25-44.

Padres 2022 record vs. Rockies: 9-10

Notable losses

Carlos Estevez, RP

Jose Iglesias, SS

Connor Joe, OF/1B

Chad Kuhl, SP

Notable additions

Fernando Abad, RP

Harold Castro, UTL

Pierce Johnson, RP

Nolan Jones, OF

Brent Suter, RP

2023 outlook

To be frank, things don’t look much better for the Rockies in 2023. Their biggest additions were two middle relievers, one of them a familiar face to Padres fans in Pierce Johnson. The other, Fernando Abad, spent his 2022 season in Triple-A and the Mexican League. Former Detroit Tiger Harold Castro might offer some value as a light-hitting, super-utility player.

The Rockies will rely heavily on the aging Charlie Blackmon, coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, as well as Bryant, who missed 120 games last year. Ryan McMahon is a solid third baseman, coming off a 3.1-WAR campaign. Cron looks to contribute again with his near 30-homer power.

Centerfielder Yonathan Daza batted .301 in 113 games a year ago. However, his power is limited.

Brendan Rodgers won a Gold Glove at second last year and added a respectable .325 on-base percentage at the plate.

On the mound, the Rockies may have a tough time competing with their starting rotation. They were dead last in starter ERA last season and did not make any major moves to improve it. They also were last in the league in bullpen ERA. However, they at least added some pieces with major-league experience.

On paper, it looks like another last-place finish and long year in Denver unless they get the MVP version of Bryant and some unexpected leaps in a few pitchers.

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How the Padres match upĀ 

Rockies owner Dick Monfort seems to believe the Rockies can “play .500 ball” if things go their way. He also did not hesitate to question the Padres’ business model, as other owners crying “poor” are wont to do.

Meanwhile, the Padres are assembling the makings of a superteam, at least at the plate. Despite this large advantage, San Diego struggled to put the Rockies away last year, finishing with a below .500 record against Colorado. Even with playing six less games against them, the Padres cannot afford to struggle against likely the cellar dwellers of the NL West again in 2023.

The Padres are better than the Rockies in every facet of the game by a large margin. Any one of Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, or Blake Snell would be the clear best pitcher on the Rockies staff. Any of the Padres’ top four hitters would be the feature piece of Colorado’s lineup. Yet the Padres struggle at times at Coors Field, going 3-7 last year in Denver. They must make hay against the Rockies this year to keep pace with the upper echelon of the National League.

The Padres and Rockies will open up the year with a series at Petco Park beginning March 30.

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