Dear Carlos Torres,
With the news that you have been added to the 40 man roster and will take the struggling Jhoulys Chacin‘s spot, let me take a moment to inform you just what exactly you are getting into.
You presumably got promoted ahead of relievers such as Zach Putnam because you are able to work a number of innings as a long reliever. If that’s the case, I’ve got to tell you, that’s the best way to go. Think about what it means to be a long man on the Rockies right now. Like other pitchers in your role, you will only enter games in best case or worst case scenarios.
Imagine the ideal situation for a guy like you. Carlos Gonzalez stays hot and bashes two home runs by the 6th inning. Todd Helton does Todd Helton things. Troy Tulowitzki comes through finally. Marco Scutaro and Dexter Fowler are disruptive at the top of the lineup, and the new veteran hitters like Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez come through with clutch at-bats. The starter that night is surprisingly competent, and as a result, it is a blow out in favor of the Rockies. Enter Carlos Torres!
Jim Tracy just tells you to attack hitters and throw strikes. You just need to eat innings and give the high pressure guys in the bullpen the night off. Fans are doing the wave. The back-ups have taken over defensively for the everyday guys. Root Sports color man George Frazier is talking about what he is eating, has eaten, and plans to eat. The camera men are searching the remaining crowd for a funny fan to fill some time. Bob Apodaca is taking a much deserved nap. Everybody wants to just end the game and go home. I don’t know about you, but I would love to pitch in that situation.
The other scenario is less rosy and more frequent this season. The starting pitcher implodes, for any number of reasons: lack of command, getting hit hard, lack of command, lack of command, early exit because he aggravated a recent bike injury… Wait…the last one hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, for all the teeth-grinding, lip-biting anger among fans and coaches alike in that situation, it’s not a bad spot for you. Seriously.
For one thing, the starter set the bar so low, you don’t have to accomplish much for us to call it a success. Eat up some innings and save the bullpen. Think of the phrases we typically use to praise a long reliever. He “held down the fort,” “limited the damage,” “kept the team afloat,” “survived.” Just don’t get shelled, and we will probably be happy. How great is that? And if the offense stages a comeback and wins the game, you might even be considered one of the game’s heroes.
The other benefit is something that is true in this and in the best case scenario: people may not even notice you, at least not for a little while. They figure the game is out of hand, so they shift their attention to other things. They will be preoccupied with trying to figure out what went wrong for the starter and what it will take for the offense to stage a comeback. And if you do give up an early run or two, we won’t be too mad. What’s another run when the starter already surrendered 7? Fans in the stands will have left their seats to get beers and snacks. They have started chatting about whether or not they should leave early and what bar they’re going to after the game. Only then does one of them say, “Wait, who’s pitching now?”
Having considered these circumstances, I should at least give you one reason that you will be under pressure during your stint with the big club. The Rockies bullpen has been nails. They have put out a lot of fires and kept the team afloat in games where the starters failed spectacularly. So you should feel at least a little bit of pressure to keep up with them.
Some might be underwhelmed by your promotion, but I kind of like it. You’ve been around a little bit, seen some things. Your recent experience ranges from the Chicago White Sox to a team in Japan. Some might say that is a bad sign, but I see it as a sign that you have developed some much needed grit, especially considering the messes you might inherit in Colorado.
Now let’s just keep our fingers crossed that you never have to make a spot start! Good luck!
Hayden W. Kane