They are who we thought they were?

Typically in baseball the only thing you can truly predict is that all of our most specific predictions will be wrong. The results may end up being roughly what we expected in many cases but even then it seems like this chaotic game always finds a way to make the path winding and surprising.

The Colorado Rockies began their 2023 season looking very much like a team with very specific issues and oddly enough that is exactly how things played out in their first five games, the first five games through the rotation.

We all know what German Marquez and Kyle Freeland are capable of at their best. Freeland was a legitimate Cy Young contender a few years back and Marquez has always had the stuff to be one at some point. Both struggled a year ago, with Freeland turning things around in the second half, but it was fair to expect the Rockies to be competitive with those guys on the bump.

On the flip side, the bottom three spots in the rotation have become a veritable “who’s who” of “who’s that?” and it was difficult to see how the rest of the roster was going to be able to overcome that.

Now, most of the time, after making all of this sound analysis, it’ll be the guys we expected to be good who scuffle out of the gate while one of the other guys has a randomly fantastic outing, maybe his best of the year. “That’s baseball,” Bud Black would say.

But not this time.

The Colorado club came out of the gate and quite comfortably beat the San Diego Padres in the first two games of the season behind their two best pitchers… well… pitching like their two best pitchers. 

Marquez got a little bit of help from reigning National League Player of the Week C.J. Cron who went absolutely off, hitting two home runs and driving in five in the opener.

Freeland was also aided by a veteran when Charlie Blackmon hit a two-run blast in the second game of the season. That was all the damage Rockies pitching would need, allowing just a single late run in the 4-1 win.

After that? Almost achingly predictable.

Jose Urena, who has never been a league average MLB pitcher, took the mound in game three and promptly led a walk-a-thon where the Rockies ended up issuing seven free passes. He only managed 2.1 IP, giving up four earned runs before having to be replaced by the minus-side bullpen guys who also struggled en route to an 8-4 loss.

Then on Sunday afternoon, the Rockies best hope to change this dynamic, Austin Gomber, took his turn. His overall statline was more than acceptable in a vacuum. For the rest of the year, the team and their fans will happily take 6 IP, 3 ER from Gomber every single time out.

The problem is that the three runs he surrendered all came via the home run which has plagued him so far in his career and may be a sign that he is still too mistake prone to be consistent. 

The other problem is what happened next with Ryan Feltner.

Feltner has great stuff and earned his way to the big leagues with some excellent performance in the minors but has really struggled to find his way through MLB lineups multiple times through the order. 

Like Urena, he couldn’t find his command and ended up walking five, though in one brutally key at-bat he didn’t get a called strike three that could have minimized a fifth inning where the Dodgers ended up scoring seven runs.

Once again, and worse this time, the bottom of the bullpen guys poured gasoline rather than water on the fire and the game got away from them in a heartbeat.

Two steps forward, three steps backward.

It also most certainly won’t play out like clockwork but this all feels like exactly the Rockies we thought we would see. 

My official pre-season prediction was that they would go 72-90, a winning percentage of .444. If they win two out of every five, that is exactly where they will be.

Strangely enough, they showed that with Marquez and Freeland, they can hang in with a team a lot of people predict to be a World Series contender this year. Then again, things in baseball rarely turn out exactly how we predict.

But so far, the Rockies are who we thought they were.