Aug 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright (52) walks over to relief pitcher Rex Brothers (49) along with catcher Michael McKenry (8) after he loads the bases in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday against the Rangers, it took him 29 pitches to get two outs, after he allowed four hits and a walk (and only threw 17 strikes).
Then, today against the Cubs, he walked one, hit one, gave up a hit, and allowed two runs in his inning of work in what was probably the worst overall game the Rockies have played all spring.
Obviously, one or two bad Spring Training outings does not a bust make, and Brothers certainly won’t find himself out of a job yet (that is, unless the Rockies know something we don’t).
It does, however, make me think of this:
Hey Rex, you’re scaring us!
But seriously… there’s an interesting aspect of this if only because of how poor of a year Brothers had in 2014 when the wheels really fell off for him in the bullpen.
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After a dominant 2013 that saw him record 19 saves and a sub-2.00 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and only 51 hits allowed in 67.1 innings pitched, Brothers lost the touch on his tough-to-hit stuff in 2014 and had a disastrous and very wild season.
Obviously, 2015 is a watershed year for his career: does he become an elite reliever like the Rockies thought he was going to be after 2013? Or does he bounce around and keep getting opportunities because of his arm strength and stuff, only to wear them out with inconsistency and a lack of control?
Anybody who is calling for Brothers’ head at this point is a little melodramatic, and I think even after two rough outings he should still start the year with the big league club. But there’s one thing working in Brothers’ favor from a developmental standpoint: he’s left-handed.
Lots of teams are begging for left-handed relievers, and yet the Rockies will likely break big league camp with three of them on the roster: Brothers, Christian Friedrich, and Boone Logan. Are Friedrich and Logan the most elite lefty bullpen guys in the league? Of course not (though, damn, Logan sure gets paid like he is one).
But Friedrich and Logan together can work the lefty-on-lefty matchups the Rockies will want late in games this summer, which does one of two things for Brothers: it frees up good Rex to be a late-inning set-up guy who could soon become a closer (like we all thought in 2013), and it frees up bad Rex to pitch in low-leverage situations or even, um, AAA.
Motor City Bengals
The left-handed depth is there in the bullpen. Let’s use it to bring Brothers along the right way, instead of continuously throwing him into the fire only to set him up to fail again and again. And maybe I’m a crazy person, but I like Friedrich as a reliever! I think he could be OK!
One other thought about Brothers in regards to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performances of 2013 and 2014: Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt was with the club in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when Brothers came up and pitched well. Last year, with Brothers flailing every which way, Betancourt was busy rehabbing away from Coors Field.
Walt Weiss loves Betancourt’s leadership, knowledge, and presence in the bullpen. Perhaps having another veteran presence in addition to LaTroy Hawkins might help Brothers in 2015 as it presumably did in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Total speculation on this (minor) point, but if Betancourt makes the team, perhaps it’ll help Brothers get straightened out by effectively having another pitching coach in the bullpen every day.
Either way, don’t you miss articles like this? That seems so long ago. Rex, let’s get back to that. You’re scaring us!