Relief pitcher J.P. Howell is left-handed. He is relatively proven and he is coming off a great 2013 season. He has a rad-looking beard. He makes sense for the Colorado Rockies as they try to fortify their bullpen.
The front office is continuing the somewhat surprising trend of this off-season, then, of doing things that make sense.
JP Howell is the #rockies‘ target. They are hopeful can get him signed. Have made real progress
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) December 12, 2013
The long-time Tampa Bay Ray was a solid member of the bullpen for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, posting a 2.03 ERA in 68 innings with 54 K’s and a .193 batting average against him. He was especially tough on lefty’s, limiting them to a .164 average on the season. The Rockies saw plenty of Howell; in 10 appearances against them, he allowed zero runs and held hitters to a .152 average.
According to FanGraphs, Howell’s threw sinkers 40.2% of the time and his version of a hard slider 33.8% of the time. Even if his velocity is not overwhelming (87.5 MPH average on his fastball and 87.2 MPH on his sinker), his stuff profiles nicely for Coors Field. That is nice to say in December, but as we know from Wilton Lopez, that only goes so far in certain instances once the season starts.
This would be a quality signing for the Rockies. The theory goes that adding another LHP for the back of the bullpen will “free” the Rockies to use Rex Brothers how they want. Not really sure what was holding them back from using him the way they wanted in the past, but I hope that they will use that freedom to use Brothers to close games when the situation calls for it.
The Houston Astros are among the other teams who are interested in signing Howell.