In the event that the Colorado Rockies sign free agent relief pitcher Jose Veras, that man will have had an interesting career arc over the last 12 months: from the cellar with the Houston Astros to the penthouse with the Detroit Tigers and then to the great confusing unknown that is the Colorado Rockies.
Veras closed for the Astros, trying to take advantage of the few save opportunities that came his way. The Detroit Tigers acquired him via trade in the midst of their infamous search for a closer last season (which included the LOL-worthy return of Jose Valverde). Despite his 19 saves with Houston, the Tigers opted to largely keep him out of that role. Giving way to Joaquin Benoit, Veras notched only two saves with Detroit.
Now he is a free agent. How would he fit in Colorado?
What he would bring to the Rockies
1. A distinctly cool “hard throwing bullpen guy” follow through.
I mean, check out this picture:
I’m ready to sign up based solely on that.
2. The appropriate skill set for a Coors Field pitcher
He throws smoke, and that smoke sinks. For all the shots we can take at the Colorado front office and their inability to acquire or develop pitchers who can succeed at Coors Field, they seem to have it figured out in the bullpen. At the very least they seem to have a firm grasp of the type of pitcher they need to pursue.
Wilton Lopez is actually a perfect example. Look, his 2013 season was a disaster, but that doesn’t mean the Rockies were wrong to trade for him. He had a proven track record in late innings and he had built up that track record with a nasty sinker. Just because Lopez did not succeed does not mean the Rockies should stop looking for pitchers like him. That’s where a guy like Veras comes in.
In 62.2 innings in 2013, Veras struck out 60 hitters. On batted balls Veras had a 41.8% ground ball percentage, only topped in his career by a 43.8% mark in 2012. As a set-up guy to go along with
closer Rex Brothers and closer LaTroy Hawkins, Veras would fit nicely.
I don’t know the man, but you have to figure he is equipped to handle the transition to Colorado and to pitching in Coors Field. His career has seen him pitch for seven franchises with all of the requisite ups and downs of a well-traveled relief pitcher. Is it possible that he would not be rattled by pitching at altitude? If it is, that’s a definitely plus. That bullpen needs stability.
He brings risk because he is 33 years old and it is presumed that it will take a three-year deal to land him. Thanks to the aforementioned Lopez, we know there are no guarantees that things will work out. If the Rockies were to give him three years to win the bidding, they would be at risk to find themselves saddled with an ineffective 35-year-old reliever two years down the road.
So should they try to get him? Yes. He brings closing experience and can bolster the team’s late innings crew. If you say that sounds like what we said about Wilton Lopez last year, you would be right. But it was the right decision to acquire Lopez then, and it would be the right decision to add Jose Veras now.