The Rockies haven't had a winning season in seven years but decent free agent signings along with talented returning stars like Nolan Arenado and an improved starting rotation make them a solid MLB pick to win at least 82 games.
The Colorado Rockies have the third-worst winning percentage since 2010, finishing with under 75 victories each season, but this year's team has enough potential to turn things around and deliver a winning season for the first time in seven years, surpassing the 80.5 season win total set by the MLB odds makers at Bovada.
The Colorado hitters exploded in the hitter-friendly Coors Field but their pitching was not able to deliver as expected and it was simply not as good as their offense.
The Rockies finished the season with a 75-87 record, way behind the Dodgers and the Giants in the National League West. The offense led the league in home runs, runs scored, hits and batting average and it featured four players with 25 or more home runs, led by third baseman Nolan Arenado, who hit 41 home runs and a major league-best 133 RBIs.
Underrated Pitching Staff
The starting rotation struggled in 2016 but it is not as bad as it may seem. The ace of the staff Jon Gray finished with 16 strikeouts and zero walks in one of his starts, so the potential is there. He will be joined by Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood and Jeff Hoffman.
Jon Gray (2016: 10-10, 4.61 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Jon Gray is just 25 years old and he proved he can be the ace of this staff for years to come. He set a Rockies rookie record with 185 strikeouts and he can improve even more after going 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He already possesses a fastball with high velocity, a solid changeup and a curveball that became very effective towards the end of the season.
Tyler Anderson (2016: 5-6, 3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Let's look at the curious case of Tyler Anderson. The 27-year-old actually loved pitching at Coors Field, going 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA but he struggled on the road with an 0-4 record and a 4.71 ERA. Pitchers usually dread having to take the mound at Coors Field but Anderson thrived there and if he can overcome his road woes and continue his dominance at home, he'll have a solid season and help the Rockies a lot.
Chad Bettis (2016: 14-8, 4.79 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)
Bettis finished with an impressive 14-8 record and a 4.79 ERA. In addition to leading the Rockies with 14 wins, he also led the team with 17 quality starts. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the offseason and he proved he can handle adversity well and is now cancer free and 100 percent ready for the new season.
Tyler Chatwood (2016: 12-9, 3.87 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
Tyler Chatwood had a solid year, finishing 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA. Unlike Tyler Anderson, Chatwood was dominant on the road, finishing 8-1 with an impressive 1.69 ERA but he was just 4-8 with a 6.12 ERA at home. If he improves his numbers at home and continues his consistency on the road he can be one of the most promising starters in the league.
Jeff Hoffman (2016: 0-4, 4.88 ERA)
Jeff Hoffman has potential to become a great major league pitcher. He was part of the trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in 2015 and he spent most of last season in AAA, but threw 31.1 innings in the majors and he struggled, posting a 4.88 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) but he's worked hard in the offseason and he is expected to start the season as Colorado fifth starter.
The Rockies also improved their bullpen, acquiring relievers Jason Motte and Greg Holland (32 saves and 49 strikeouts in 48 appearances for the Royals in 2015), who comes off a season-ending elbow surgery.
With this team's offense, it's up to the starting rotation to step up and perform to their potential. If they do that the Rockies have a legitimate chance at winning at least 82 games. I will bet on the Rockies to win 'Over' 80.5 games with my MLB picks.