Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Once upon a time, Nick Masset was a very good relief pitcher. From 2009 to 2011, from the age of 27 to 29, he pitched more than 70 innings each season for the Cincinnati Reds. He had a 3.15 ERA and a 8.8 K/9 ratio in 223 innings over that time. He was the Reds’ setup man, with 54 holds over that time, a very solid 18 per season. You can see that Masset was a very good player, and reliable, too. Well, what happened to Nick Masset? I bet you can guess the answer: injuries. At the start of 2012, Nick Masset was sidelined with a right shoulder injury. He didn’t pitch at all in 2012 and had surgery in September. Masset was supposed to be ready for the start of the 2013 season, but again missed the whole season due to injury. So since his three year streak of more than 70 games pitched and more than 70 innings, Masset has not pitched once. So why am I talking about him? Because Masset is now a Colorado Rockie, and was invited to spring training.
We all know how bad the Rockies’ bullpen, and pitching staff in general, was last year. The bullpen actually got a little bit unlucky, with an xFIP of 3.78 accompanying an NL-worst 4.23 ERA. The only relief pitchers they could really rely on last season were Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle, and Adam Ottavino. Edgmer Escalona and Rob Scahill pitched a combined 79 innings, and both had an ERA above 5. It’s clear that the Rockies need more depth when it comes to the bullpen.
The signing of Nick Masset was absolutely a shot in the dark. Masset, after all, hasn’t pitched in two seasons. But there is some hope. Masset comes over from another hitters park, Great American Park in Cincinnati. He did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the park in that three year span we are looking at, allowing 18 homers in 223 innings. He struck guys out at a nice rate. He was an accomplished setup man.
I have no idea whether Nick Masset will even be healthy enough to pitch. But given that the Rockies signed him and subsequently invited him to spring training, I’ll assume that he will be. And the skills are there. When he was healthy, Masset had one of the best curveballs in the game to pair with a nice fastball. He also was able to get ground balls and double plays. Who knows if that’s still there.
Again, this is a total shot in the dark, and it probably won’t happen, but I don’t think it’s outrageous to think that Nick Masset, still just 31, can become a valuable bullpen depth piece for the Colorado Rockies. The more likely scenario is that he will spend most of the year on the DL again, but he has the track record and the stuff to be a factor for the Rockies. I’ll definitely be interested to see if and how he pitches in spring training.