Colorado Rockies: Looking at 3 Position Battles in the Spring

Sep 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; General view of the bullpen of the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning against San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Giants 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; General view of the bullpen of the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning against San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Giants 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jul 7, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) delivers a pitch in ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Phillies 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Adam Ottavino (0) delivers a pitch in ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Phillies 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Closer: Adam Ottavino and Greg Holland

Two years ago, given the chance to have either Greg Holland or Adam Ottavino close games for a team, it would have been an easy choice. This year, the Rockies face a tough decision at a crucial position.

Holland has converted all but 10 saves over his last three seasons, but missed all of last year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was an All-Star closer with the Kansas City Royals for years before joining the Rockies. Greg Holland joined the Rockies this offseason after signing a one-year deal with an option for next season.

Adam Ottavino has a similar story, but has never been an All-Star on a postseason club. After dominating in his relief role with the Rockies in 2015, Ottavino was set to become the closer. Unfortunately, he underwent Tommy John surgery and was sidelined for the entire year. He came back last season and worked a very nice 2.67 ERA while converting on seven of 12 save opportunities.

The team’s closer could be chosen during Spring Training, but Holland has not thrown in a live game yet. He is still on a strict throwing plan, and will continue to face only simulated game situations until he is fully recovered. Manager Bud Black has voiced his opinion regarding the situation, but doesn’t reveal much more than it will remain an open competition until the position is filled.

Holland doesn’t have much experience in roles other than closer, and for good reason. He has been dominant since taking over as the full-time closer for the Royals in 2013, and doesn’t show any intention to shy away from the high-pressure position. On the other hand, Ottavino has shown the ability to be a dominant late-inning reliever and even a setup man for the Rockies.

If Holland still possesses a fastball in the high-90s and a dominant second pitch, he will ultimately become the full-time closer for the Rockies once healthy. Ottavino can become a dominant setup man and give the Rockies’ bullpen a much needed boost in late inning situations.