Apr 30, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher R. Brothers against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Colorado Rockies’ left-handed reliever hasn’t been dominant since his recall September 1st, but… wait, HAS he been dominant?! Let’s look.
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The Colorado Rockies sure could’ve used the old Rex Brothers this year in a bullpen decimated by a typical-for-the-Rockies combination of old-age, ineffectiveness, injuries, and just plain ol’ not throwin’ strikes.
With all the problems Brothers had over the past year, most people (myself included) had written him off in 2015, and a significant number of people (what the hell, myself included) didn’t expect much from Brothers in Denver, well, ever again.
So imagine my shock when Brothers had been, uhh, good since his recall September 1 from AAA Albuquerque. In 13 September games with the Rockies before Friday night, Brothers has thrown 6.2 innings, giving up four hits, no runs, and four walks, while striking out three hitters. He’s thrown 55 of his 94 pitches for strikes (58.5%), which is, well, it’s pretty good for recent Rex Brothers.
Less than seven innings doesn’t mean much, of course. But considering the journey upon which Brothers has found himself, this month has been a surprise. Sure, there’s a MAJOR asterisk: in September, he’s faced no more than four hitters per appearance (and only done that twice). He’s faced one hitter five times, and two hitters four other times. He’s not being left out there for all of us to see if he’s truly turned the corner from a miserable last 18 months.
But… what if he has turned that corner, simply as a different pitcher than before? Early in Brothers’ big league career, he was a dominant reliever to batters on both sides of the plate, and he had true closer stuff and makeup. Once he completely lost command and confidence, well, he lost that closer’s role and ability, too. And while he may not get that back, he might hold some value to the Rockies anyways.
In all of 2015 (this includes a July stint where he allowed two runs in 2.2 innings), Brothers is holding lefties to four hits and three walks in 24 plate appearances (.200/.292/.350). Righties are slashing .286/.474/.429 in 19 plate appearances. I know; neither is significant enough to draw conclusions, but perhaps there’s an opening for Brothers as a left-handed specialist in the 2016 bullpen.
Christian Friedrich — bless him, he’s stayed in the big leagues all year and worked his tail off in a bad bullpen — isn’t a long-term solution. Boone Logan will enter 2016 in the final year of a terrible contract as the Rockies ought to look to move him mid-season . Yohan Flande will earn himself long relief innings next year, but nothing of consequence against lefties late in games.
And then there’s Brothers. Rex hasn’t been tested too hard this September, with the Colorado Rockies opting for a soft landing in his return to Denver. Great! He’s building confidence and showing a little bit of what we’ve all loved so much about the old Brothers. It’s the perfect stepping stone to earn the chance for more significant innings come Spring Training 2016.