Justin Miller, Jairo Diaz Giving Colorado Rockies A Preview Of 2016 Bullpen


Jul 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher J. Miller (60) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies are auditioning 2016 bullpen candidates right now, and one thing should stand out to you as you watch these guys work: power. 

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If you look closely, you can see the Colorado Rockies’ 2016 bullpen taking shape. In fact, Thursday afternoon’s victory against the San Diego Padres was a pretty good indicator of a few of the guys you will see in the ‘pen for next year’s club.

Both Justin Miller and Jairo Diaz, as well as a few others (more below), are proving themselves to the Rockies’ front office as options for the bullpen in 2016. Each threw a scoreless inning in a close game Thursday afternoon, and each has been a revelation for the Rockies in short spurts at the end of the season.

And what do those two (and Scott Oberg, and Brooks Brown, and Miguel Castro) have in common? Power, man. They’re all power-armed right-handed relievers with hard late-breaking stuff that, when on point, misses bats.

[ Related: The Colorado Rockies’ 2016 bullpen wish list ]

Yes, Brown probably fits best in middle relief, and a power arm there is intriguing. Yes, Oberg has certainly struggled in his rookie season, though with his arm strength, you’d be smart to be bullish on him improving next year. Yes, Castro is only 20 years old (!) and granted, Diaz has had command problems in the past.

I’m not saying the Colorado Rockies are a tick or two away from the best bullpen in the league, but I am saying that under Jeff Bridich, acquisitions like Miller, Diaz, and Castro and promotions to guys like Oberg tell a story. Finally, the Rox look like they might go all in on a power bullpen, and use seven guys who can run the ball mid- to upper-90s on a consistent basis.

Sadly, Boone Logan will likely be back next year, and ought to be the left-handed specialist, barring the sudden improvement of Christian Friedrich. They’ll need another veteran (or two) as they await the return of Adam Ottavino from elbow surgery; John Axford may return there. Throw Yohan Flande into long relief, add a free agent or two, and bam — you’ve got a bullpen!

[ Related: Yohan Flande has earned the 2016 long relief role ]

Between Miller, Diaz, Castro, Brown, Oberg, Tommy Kahnle, and whatever free agents inevitably come in this offseason, the Colorado Rockies are putting together some power depth. Credit to Miller and Diaz for making themselves viable options for 2016, and credit to Bridich for acquiring Diaz and Castro for these roles.

Will it work? Maybe. (This is the Rockies, so… probably not.) But at least they’re doing what they should’ve always been doing in the ‘pen (and in the rotation; more on that later): eschewing the theory on finding sinker ballers, and instead going after power arms that aren’t as uniquely exposed by altitude or Coors Field-specific problems.

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