Number 3: How Bryan Shaw will change the bullpen
So far, Colorado’s biggest offseason signing of a player who wasn’t with the team in 2017 has been Bryan Shaw, a workhorse right-hander who is expected to be one of the key pieces of Colorado’s late innings next season.
Shaw has seen action in 70 or more games each of the last five seasons, starting in 2012 with the Diamondbacks and continuing for the next four campaigns with the Cleveland Indians. That trend should continue in Colorado next season.
Last year, Mike Dunn led the Rockies with 68 appearances followed by Scott Oberg’s 66. In all, there were six Rockies pitchers who appeared in 60 or more games last season. How will Shaw be used? Will be a true set-up man or more of a specialist? Will his appearances reduce the number of times we might see an Oberg or even Chris Rusin? Shaw will change things in the Rockies bullpen and we are interested to see how.
Of course, the Rockies shook things up on Friday by signing closer Wade Davis, making their bullpen even more formidable.
Number 4: Another veteran catcher working with young pitchers
Along with Shaw, Colorado made a splash by signing Chris Iannetta to a two-year deal before the Winter Meetings began. The catcher will turn 35 during the 2018 season so the Rockies are bringing him on for his experience as much as his play on the field.
That experience will serve two purposes. First, it gives Iannetta the chance to mold Colorado’s young rotation in a similar fashion to the impact Jonathan Lucroy had on the pitchers late last season. So many in the Rockies clubhouse will tell you of the difference Lucroy made so Colorado is hoping Iannetta can continue that trajectory.
Second, Iannetta can also serve as a mentor to young catchers Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy. Iannetta hasn’t appeared in 100 games in three consecutive seasons so catching will likely be a platoon situation this year. That means plenty of growing opportunities for Wolters and Murphy. Both struggled last season. Will the presence of Iannetta and another year under their belt help them? Rockies fans hope so.