Colorado Rockies 2015 Crystal Ball: Brooks Brown


Sep 1, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Brooks Brown (51) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the season gets underway, is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: Brooks Brown.

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Brooks Brown took a long path to the big leagues after being drafted in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 out of the University of Georgia. He spent time in the minors with the Dbacks, Tigers, and Pirates organizations before landing with the Rockies last summer.

And then, as a 28-year old rookie, he made his big league debut in Colorado and fared well in 28 games last season, allowing just 1.73 BB/9 while striking out 7.27 batters per nine innings. He also came up with a 58.4% ground ball rate and earned a very solid ERA/FIP/xFIP slash line of 2.77/3.71/3.21 in relief.

Now, he’s a member of the 2015 bullpen, and an increasingly important one at that. Let’s see how he’ll do this summer:

What The Numbers Say

FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.

At this point in the year, FanGraphs’ two projection systems are diametrically opposed on Brown; Steamer believes him to only spend about half the year with the club, throwing 30+ games (he’s already appeared in seven, so…). On the other end, ZiPS believes he’ll spend all or most of the year in the big leagues, tossing around 60 ball games and 70 innings.

Neither projection system believes he’ll carry over his numbers from last summer, but with predicted ERAs ranging from 3.89 to 4.34, none of the projections believe he’ll get lit up by big league hitters, either. Low home run rates (under 1 per nine innings), low walk rates (all under 3 per nine) and middling strike out rates (hovering just above 7 per nine) also make up his noteworthy projections.

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  • Best-Case Scenario

    We’ve seen Brown’s best-case scenario before; he hadn’t allowed a run in 16 appearances until coughing up two in Dodger Stadium last weekend. He throws strikes, has a powerful fastball, challenges hitters, and gets ground balls – traits you need to see in the bullpen.

    In the best-case scenario, which I’ve written about here, Brown asserts himself as a key bridge from the starters to Adam Ottavino and the other guys in the back end of the Rockies’ bullpen (whomever that might be) as a seventh inning guy all summer.

    In a really best-case scenario, maybe Brown even ekes out a role as a more traditional eighth-inning set up man. After all, he’s thus far thrown strikes coming out of the pen while a lot of the Rockies’ pitching staff has failed to do so.

    Worst-Case Scenario

    Looking deeper at Brown’s numbers can brings up one issue. As a right-handed pitcher, at least this season, he’s struggled with right-handed hitters. In the (very young) 2015 campaign, he’s allowed righties to slash .313/.389/.500 in 18 PAs, while holding lefties to just a .176/.176/.294 line across 17 PAs. Small sample size, blah blah blah, but those are splits to keep an eye on this summer.

    In 2014, he was equally stingy against both sides of the plate (righties hit .208 off him while lefties clipped him to the tune of a .209 average), so perhaps his early going this year is just an anomaly.

    If he can correct his failure to get righties out as the summer goes on, he can be incredibly valuable. If he can’t, he becomes a very difficult piece to keep in the ‘pen with hard throwing right-handers Tommy Kahnle, Jairo Diaz, and Scott Oberg all down in Albuquerque.

    Crystal Ball

    Brown throws hard, though he’s throwing a little less hard this year than he did in 2014. Some of that is no doubt because it’s early, still. Nevertheless, I’m really, really, really bullish on a huge year for Brown. I like his story, I like how he works quickly and throws strikes, and I like how he challenges hitters.

    His ability to get left-handers out is a huge asset to his success, and I like his stuff and work on the mound so much, I’ll go beyond best-case scenario with my (kinda crazy) prediction: no, he will not usurp the closer role from Adam Ottavino, but Brooks Brown will be the eighth-inning set-up man for the Rockies by the end of the year.

    I think Boone Logan, Rafael Betancourt, and LaTroy Hawkins (duh) will all fade and be removed from throwing tight, late-game innings, and Brooks Brown will move further and further back into games until he’s throwing the eighth inning in front of Ottavino and protecting leads.

    Crazy? For sure. But he fills up the zone and he’s got two power pitches, why couldn’t it happen?

    Give us your predictions!

    Comment below, find us on Facebook, or tweet us @RoxPileFS and let us know. You can also use the hashtag #RoxCrystalBall.