Colorado Rockies: who will Join Chris Rusin in the 2018 bullpen?
Rockies left-handed reliever Chris Rusin had a breakout 2017, going 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA (189 ERA+) and a WHIP below 1.11. His characteristic quick-pitch and indispensable versatility helped Rusin make a name for himself as one of the best-kept secrets in baseball.
His days of confidentiality may be numbered, however.
On September 8, Colorado played one of its biggest games of the season in Los Angeles against the division rival Dodgers. The Rockies rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a one run lead against Yu Darvish in the fifth.
In the next inning, the Dodgers’ star third basemen Justin Turner came to the plate with two outs and the tying run standing on third base. The Rockies’ pitcher was Chris Rusin.
As is often the case in intra-divisional battles, Rusin and Turner have had a long and tumultuous history facing each other.
Unfazed, Rusin refused to blink first. With the count at 2-2, he fired a quick-pitch past Turner to strike him out looking and end the threat. When the game was over, Rusin had earned his fifth victory of the season.
In the age of Andrew Miller and Chris Devenski, Chris Rusin has found a home at the back of the Rockies bullpen.
Whether it’s eating up a couple innings or coming in to face one batter in a key moment, Rusin has proven he’s up for the task.
He was a critical piece to an improved 2017 Rockies bullpen that helped the team make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Unfortunately, he’s also one of the only pieces of that bullpen who is signed through next season.
Closer Greg Holland (41 saves, 3.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 11 K/9) declined his option for 2018 to take a shot at free agency. Lefty Jake McGee (3.61 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.1 K/9) is a free agent this offseason. All Star set up man Pat Neshek (1.59 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 10 K/9) was added at the deadline and will also be a free agent.
Those are three huge pieces to replace, and though it would be great if one or two of them could be re-signed, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.
The Rockies saw flashes of success from young relievers like Scott Oberg, Carlos Estevez, and Zac Rosscup but they will need to make additions in the offseason if they want their bullpen to remain a weapon.
With the free agent market opening up this week, here are a few free agent relievers that might be (or should be) on the Rockies’ radar this offseason.