While there is plenty of talk in the rumor mill about the Colorado Rockies potentially acquiring some help for its bullpen, reliever Mike Dunn has quietly regained his form this month.
In his first campaign with the Rockies, it’s been an up-and-down season for the 32-year-old veteran southpaw. He burst onto the scene with Colorado with a 2-0 mark and 1.17 ERA in April. However, he was placed on the disabled list with back spasms near the end of the month. When he returned, he struggled to regain his form. A 9.35 ERA in May and a 6.30 ERA in June signaled something was certainly off for Dunn.
Opponents also hit .343 against him in May and .293 in June. Looking back, Colorado manager Bud Black thinks Dunn may have still been fighting some of the effects of the early April injury.
"“I think so. There had to be something,” Black told Rox Pile and other media members on Sunday. “He was throwing so well and then the upper back situation occurred. When he came back, he couldn’t get back in that groove. Whether that was still bothering him a little bit, he was able to pitch through it. That could be part of the reason why he scuffled in May and June. I think there has to be a correlation.”"
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However, July has been a different story for Dunn. In 6.1 innings covering eight appearances, Dunn has not allowed a run and has surrendered just two hits. Opponents are hitting just .095 against him this month. He has also walked three while striking out seven.
When I asked Dunn if anything had changed when the calendar turned to July, he said nothing really had.
"“I continued to keep working and keep preparing,” Dunn said in an exclusive interview. “I’ve been doing it for a long time. I know that I’m a good pitcher. It was just a matter of time for things before things kind of turned. You can only control your preparation and your effort once you get out there and release the ball. You can’t really control anything else. I continue to trust my process and my work ethic and preparation for games and continually work to try to get better.”"
Black said he has liked what he has seen from Dunn this month, but believes Dunn can get even better.
"“The slider has been better. Not where it was early but it’s getting closer,” Black said. “Fastball command is getting more dialed in. Not where it was in April, but getting closer so that’s a good thing. He’s held his stuff even through good times and bad, but the consistency of his pitches is getting closer to where it needs to be, both fastball and slider and the occasional curveball he throws is getting a little more consistent too. The consistency of the action to his pitches and a little bit more dialed in around the strike zone.”"
Dunn has already appeared in 42 games for the Rockies this season. That is tied with Jake McGee for the second-most appearances, behind Chris Rusin’s 45. A high work rate has never been a concern for Dunn in the past. He appeared in 72 or more games during four of his first five seasons with the Florida/Miami Marlins.
If Dunn can continue his recent successful ways, the Rockies could revert to the ways of April when Dunn and McGee were solid set-up men for closer Greg Holland. That could solidify the back end of the bullpen even more, a piece that will be critical to Colorado’s success as the season marches on.