When McGee went down with his injury, Estevez was thrust into the closer role last season. It worked at first. The 24-year-old right-hander converted his first four saves and went seven-for-seven in save opportunities with a 1.80 ERA in July.
Then came August. Heart-ripping late-inning losses to Miami and Texas when the Rockies were in the mix for a Wild Card spot signaled the beginning of the end for Estevez in the closer role. It was a month that not only saw Estevez post a 10.00 ERA but also even saw him sent to Triple-A to try to regain his dominance.
It helped, but not much. Estevez finished the season by allowing six earned runs in his last 7.2 innings pitched.
The numbers aren’t great, but it’s important to take a look at Estevez as a whole. He started the season in Triple-A and last season was his first-ever experience at the Major League level. During that inaugural season, he was suddenly the closer. It was a lot of change and a lot to take in in a very short of time.
This season, Estevez has experience under his belt. He’s had an offseason to prepare for a season at the Major League level. Will he be one of the players considered for the closer role this season? It’s very possible. If that’s the case (or even if it isn’t), Estevez has experience and that can’t be taken lightly.
One other thing that can tremendously help both McGee and Estevez is the pitching knowledge that Black brings to his role as manager. Last year’s bullpen was a trouble spot for the Rockies to say the least. If McGee and Estevez can improve this season, it will make a big difference in the later innings.