Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: Colorado Rockies
By Max Rayman
The Rockies were a huge disappointment in 2019 and the future looks bleak. With their star in trade rumors, how will the Rockies fare in 2020?
In 2018 the Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs in the NL Wild Card game before being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers. This marked the second straight season the Rockies had made the playoffs. Colorado capped off their successful 2018 season by extending face of the franchise Nolan Arenado to a massive eight year extension worth 260 million. Things were looking up for the Rockies. They entered the 2019 season with high expectations. Instead they limped out of the gate, the pitching staff collapsed, and the offense never got going. This led to a 71-91 finish. Now the team is facing a bloated pay roll, and Arenado is engulfed in trade rumors.
The Rockies biggest problem heading into 2020 is their pitching staff. In 2019 the Rockies starting rotation ranked last in ERA (5.87), last in opponents batting average (.286), 24th in strikeouts (701), last in K/9 (7.49), and last in opponents OPS (.861). Now some of the bad pitching can be accounted towards Coors Field. It is notorious for being a hitters park, and pitchers tend to struggle there. This doesn’t excuse the starting rotations porous performance in 2019. For example, in 2018 Ace Kyle Freeland had a break out year. He went 17-7, with a 2.85 ERA, and 173 strikeouts in 202.1/3 innings. After his breakout performance, many expected Freeland to take another huge jump instead he fell down to earth hard. He went 3-11, with a 6.73 ERA, and 79 strikeouts in 104.1/3 innings. He eventually was demoted to Triple A by the end of May. In July, he was called back up, but did not fare much better. The Rockies pitching staff should improve, but by how much is unknown.
If the Rockies cannot right the ship, expect Arenado to be dealt sooner than later.
Colorado’s 2019 record: 71-91
Washington’s record vs. the Rockies: 4-3
Colorado added/re-signed: Scott Oberg,
Colorado lost: Yonder Alonso*, Chad Bettis*,
*player is still a free agent
Nationals to Watch
Trea Turner has flourished on the Rockies pitching staff, having hit both of his cycles against them. The 26-year-old speedster is the engine that drives the Nationals offense. Turner is able to work opposing pitchers counts and is great at applying pressure on the base paths. When Turner was placed on the IL last season, the Nats offense sputtered, partially leading to their awful start. When he came back, the Nationals picked up steam and the rest is history. Turner is coming off a season where he hit .298, with 19 homers, 57 RBI’s, and stole 35 bases.
In 60 at bats against the current Rockies pitchers, Turner is hitting a ridiculous .367, with two homers, 13 RBI’s, and has an OPS of 1.101. A key match up to watch is Turner vs. Jon Gray. Gray is one of the few pitchers on the staff that has found some success against the righty. In nine at bats against Gray, Turner is hitting .222, with a homer, and a strikeout. If Gray can contain Turner, then the Nats offense will struggle to get going. However if Turner can overcome the 28-year-old, the Nats have a huge shot of winning.
2020 Series Prediction
July 27-29 in D.C.
August 17-20 @ Colorado
The Rockies pitching staff cannot be that awful for the second straight year, but it wont be enough. The Nats are too deep and will run away with the season series.
Prediction: Nationals win the series 4-2