Carlos Estevez has struggled lately for the Colorado Rockies. Realizing that, the team sent him to Triple-A on Friday.
Estevez, who has allowed 10 runs in his last two appearances covering five innings, was optioned to Albuquerque to work on his craft. Chad Qualls was activated off the disabled list to take his roster spot.
Colorado manager Walt Weiss said his admiration and appreciation for Estevez and his skills hasn’t wavered, despite the demotion and recent rough outings.
“That hasn’t changed,” Weiss said of his liking of Estevez being a part of the Colorado bullpen. “There are a few different reasons for this. One of the major reasons was his workload. It’s been a heavy workload for him. It gives us a chance to give him a physical break. Maybe a mental one too, although I feel like Carlos is on his way back.
“He’s thrown the ball well his last few times out. I’ve put him in some high-leverage situations again after taking him out of the closer’s role. I think he’s on his way to being where he was earlier in the season.
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“It doesn’t have anything to do with performance. Like I said, he’s been throwing the ball better. I do feel like we can back off him a little bit and take the foot off the gas. He’s never had a workload like this in his professional career.”
Although dominant early in the season, hitters have been making solid contact with Estevez in recent games. It’s one of the concerning factors for the Rockies and one of the reasons his ERA has climbed to 5.28.
“There are some things mechanically we’ve talked about. Guys are taking pretty decent swings at his 98 to 100 mile per hour fastball. That shouldn’t happen,” Weiss said. “We’re talking about some frontside things mechanically that he’s going to work on. A lot of that has to do with being in good counts too. When you get in bad counts, even when you throw 100 miles per hour, Major League hitters can time it up. If they start eliminating other pitches and they just gear up for your fastball, which has happened to Carlos at times, they’re going to get the barrel to it.”
While disappointed, Weiss said the former closer handled the demotion like a professional.
“Nobody likes to get sent out. I don’t care what the reasons are,” Weiss said. “He’s disappointed but he’s a great kid. He’s very mature for his experience level and his age. He’s going to be fine.”
While in Albuquerque, Weiss is hoping Estevez becomes comfortable again with using other pitches besides his fastball.
“I want him to use all of his pitches when he’s pitching in games. I want him to use the entire pitch mix. That’s all,” Weiss said.
So how soon will Estevez be back with the Rockies? That’s still to be determined, according to Weiss.
“Obviously, he would be back with us when the rosters expand (September 1) but there’s a real good chance he could be back before then too,” Colorado’s manager said.
Meanwhile, Qualls returns from the disabled list after being placed there on July 16 with colitis. He recently said he lost about 16 pounds with the ailment.
“He’s been out a long time. Like I typically do with guys who have been away for a while, I’m going to ease him back in,” Weiss said of Qualls and his 5.61 ERA. “We’ll try to get some outings underneath his belt and get him comfortable again. We’ll start out easing him in and his role will be determined as we go along.”