In Orlando, Florida, all 30 MLB general managers are meeting at the GM Meetings. Usually, not a lot happens at these meetings, at least in the public eye, as it primarily lays the ground work for free agent deals or trades that happen at the Winter Meetings in December. While at the meetings, Thomas Harding and A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com spoke with the general manager of the Colorado Rockies, Jeff Bridich, about one thing in particular: the bullpen.
The Rockies bullpen was much improved in the 2017 season as their ERA went from 5.13 in 2016 to 4.40 this past season. It was the worst in baseball in 2016 and 20th overall in 2017. However, three key relievers in the Rockies bullpen (Greg Holland, Jake McGee, and Pat Neshek) are free agents now.
Bridich discussed the Rockies potential game plan on filling the spots:
"“We do have some internal kids who might either retain roles or step up into new roles,” Bridich said. “But I do think we are going to have to look to add to our ‘pen, whether it’s via free agency or through trades. With the success [Holland] had, he’ll certainly be a guy we talk to. Whether it’s him or not, I don’t know.“We’re keeping our eyes and ears open to just about everything to try to address additions to our club.”"
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Who could step up for the Rockies?
Three of the other arms that Bridich mentioned that will have to step up are Adam Ottavino, Carlos Estevez, and Scott Oberg. For all three of them, a main problem is their walk rates. Ottavino walked 6.6 per nine innings while Estevez walked 3.9 and Oberg 3.7 per nine. Also, the lowest ERA of the trio is Oberg…at 4.94.
By ERA+ in Coors Field, if you pitch under a 5.00 ERA, you are essentially at league average. However, in a bullpen, you want to have an ERA that is a bit lower. For example, between Greg Holland, Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, and Pat Neshek, none of the four had an ERA higher than 3.61 (or an ERA+ of 139).
Bridich mentioned how he thinks that the other relievers need to step up but they will still look at the free agent market. In my opinion, I think that there’s no doubt that they will sign at least one reliever and probably more.
However, if Oberg, Estevez, and Ottavino each pitch like they are capable of, they will make the Rockies bullpen even better and Bud Black may have a good problem on his hands: too many good relievers to fit on the roster.