Colorado Rockies: Looking at the Back End of the 2017 Bullpen
It is no secret throughout the Colorado Rockies‘ history that pitching has always been an issue. The current edition of the Blake Street Bombers’ deadly lineup featuring Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, and Carlos Gonzalez have recently made the Rockies one of the best offenses in baseball. Typically, however, the Rockies bullpen and starting rotation have both been a major issue.
Last season, additions like Tyler Chatwood (returning from his second Tommy John surgery) and Jon Gray (his first full season in the Majors) made the starting rotation much more potent. Gray in particular looks poised to be an ace in the near future. In addition, the 4th overall pick in this past year’s draft was Riley Pint, who throws over 100 miles per hour consistently. There is little doubt that, barring injury, he can one day grow into a key role in the rotation. Given that he is fresh out of high school, he has plenty of time to perfect his skills.
These key players give Rockies fans hope that one day in the very near future, they will have an at-least solid rotation, which is all they need. That could be this season, with young talent like German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman ready to lend their talents.
However, Colorado’s relief pitchers have been an entirely different story.
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Last season, the Rockies posted a 75-87 record, 16 games out of a division title. This was also 12 games out of the playoffs. Their closer at the start of the season, Jake McGee, had a 4.17 ERA and posted just 15 total saves all season. Their entire bullpen as a whole could only post a 4.91 ERA, much too high for relief pitchers. It can be said that their bullpen was the reason for enough losses to keep them out of the playoffs. With an even decent bullpen, they might have perhaps gotten closer to competing for a playoff spot.
Over this past offseason, the Rockies landed two free agent relief pitchers who will hope to help Colorado’s chronic bullpen problem. These players are Greg Holland and Mike Dunn. Holland, in particular, is a large question mark. He was a borderline elite pitcher until undergoing Tommy John surgery. How well he plays after such a large surgery is a big question that could change the entire landscape of the Rockies. It’s a high-risk, high-reward acquisition that could dramatically change not only Colorado’s bullpen, but the team’s fortune as well.
Regarding the bullpen, the closer position is probably the biggest question heading into the season. McGee was subpar, and likely won’t receive that role again. If Greg Holland can reach a spot where he once was, he will definitely be in the running, as will Adam Ottavino, who returned from Tommy John surgery last season to earn seven saves.
Of these two, whoever does not get the closing role will more than likely be slotted at the 8th inning specialty reliever spot.
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What do you think? Who earns the closer spot for this season? Who deserves it? Let us know below.