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Woody Paige: Colorado Rockies starting pitchers need to be like Rolling Stones

April 3, 2018 Updated: April 4, 2018 at 7:55 am
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Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, left, speaks with pitcher Chad Bettis (35) during a spring training baseball practice on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

If the Rockies aspire to reach the postseason again, their young pitching rotation must be The Stones.

"Start Me Up,'' "Let It Loose'' and "Paint It Black'' should become the Rockies' exhortations.

Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela aren't Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, (the late) Brian Jones and Ron Wood, but it's only rock & roll, and they like it.

They realistically need to win more than 50 games. Last season Marquez was 11-7, Freeland 11-11, Gray 10-4, Senzatela 10-5 and Bettis, in nine starts after returning from his second cancer recovery, 2-4.

This is the most superlative, and expensive, bullpen the Rockies ever have assembled, but if the starters only spit dirt for three, four or even five innings consistently, there will be no relief in sight.

Through the first four games, the Rockies' rotation, the lowest paid group in the entire major leagues, didn't have any starter last longer than five innings. Gray, the "ace,'' managed just four in the first game in Arizona, and Anderson didn't make it far (2 1/3), while Marquez and Bettis both posted through the fifth.

Senzatela, the odd pitcher out for the time being, relieved Anderson for 2 2/3rds.

When the Rockies finally got to the back end of the bullpen in the third game, everybody could rave about Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee and, especially, Wade Davis, one of baseball's classic closers. They shut down and out the Snakes to preserve Charlie Blackmon's homer-led 2-1 victory.

Dick Monfort and Jeff Bridich have $47 million invested in their eight-man relief corps (including Senzatela). Davis will receive $16 million in 2018, and Shaw, McGee, Michael Dunn and Adam Ottovino each will earn approximately $7 million. Chris Rusin draws $1.3 mil and Scott Oberg $555,000.

Only one starter - Bettis - is above the half-million-bucks category. He is on a $2 million contract.

Not one other five-man rotation has cumulative salaries as low as the Rockies' $4.2 million total. In fact, all but a couple have more than one, two, even three starting pitchers making a lot more than the Rockies' quintet.

The Rox do have young value in their rotation, if it produces.

If not, Bridich/Monfort will regret that they didn't sign, at least, Lance Lynn (who signed a one-year deal with the Twins for $12 million) or, gagged hard, and jumped at Jake Arrieta (who ultimately joined the Phillies on a three-year, $75 million contract).

It is noted that the Rockies have elevated into the top half of the baseball payroll business - at 15th with almost $138 million in salaries for the roster, and another $4 million still due Jose Reyes. (At last, his monstrous pact ends this year).

So, the Monfort Bros. no longer can be assailed for not spending hard cash - $22 mil this season for Ian Desmond? - but the future contracts of Blackmon and, naturally, the sport's premier third baseman, Nolan Arenado, will cause tremors at 20th & Blake.

But the Rockies are living in the present - and Monfort mused to me at spring training about what moves might be contemplated in the summer if the Rockies are in the thick of a race. (Last season before the trading deadline, in breaking with tradition, the club acquired two veterans - a reliever and a catcher - and the expenditures paid off.)

The Rockies don't require more hitters with this offensive unit. They might find an arm useful.

Local lackeys and a couple of national seamsters have predicted that the Rockies will finish first in the National League West - which would be the only season in the club's 26 that they win a division title. However, the rest of the free baseball world picks the Dodgers for their sixth straight N.L. West championship. The Rockies generally are considered a viable wild-card contender for their fourth advancement to the playoffs.

Eight other National League clubs are bona fide postseason challengers - the Nationals and the Mets in the East, the Cubs, the Cardinals and the Brewers in the Central and the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks and the Giants in the West.

A repeat 87-75 record won't make it. The Rockies must reach the level of 2007 and 2009. Ninety is the number.

They'll achieve that goal ... if the starters do a Pitch Six.

The Rolling Rox?

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