Mercifully, the Colorado Rockies will play their first Spring Training later today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona but one of the things that was one of, if not, the biggest stories, this offseason, was the Rockies adding to their bullpen. So, now, the bullpen waters are a bit more murky.
This offseason, the Colorado Rockies signed right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw (who has one of the best cutters in the game) and closer Wade Davis to three year contracts as well as resigning left-handed reliever Jake McGee to a three year contract. Their signings give the Rockies a lot of players that could be in the bullpen, the starting rotation, or spend time in both.
However, today, we will focus on the Rockies bullpen and how it could look on opening day.
Closer: Wade Davis
Barring injury, there is no discussion on whether or not Davis will be the Rockies closer in 2018. He had 32 saves for the Chicago Cubs last year and had 27 saves for the Royals in 2016. He also signed the most lucrative contract for a reliever ever so it’s obvious that Davis will be the Rockies closer in 2018.
Set-up men (2): Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee
The Rockies two other offseason signings/re-signings will occupy the two set-up roles. If you want to give each of them an inning, just by looking at their stats from 2017, Shaw fared much better in the seventh inning as batters hit .152 off him in the 7th compared to .276 in the 8th inning.
McGee also had better overall numbers in the seventh inning (albeit, in limited action) but he pitched most of his games in the 8th inning and he was much more effective than Shaw in the 8th inning (.238 opponent batting average in the 8th). He had an opponent batting average of .179 in the 7th inning.
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Personally, I’m not a fan of having four middle relievers because that means that you have 13 pitchers (which they don’t need). It also limits your bench but Rockies manager Bud Black is a fan of having 13 pitchers.
Ottavino had a bad season last year but Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes will have to work with him on his mechanics. He averaged 6.6 walks per nine innings and that’s part of the reason why his ERA was north of 5. However, in his MLB career prior to last season, he averaged 3.2 walks per nine innings so if his mechanics and control are worked on, he’ll be much better.
Mike Dunn struggled a bit in his first season with the Rockies as he had a 4.47 ERA and a 4.63 FIP but with having a contract for the next two years (at least), he’ll definitely be in the bullpen and somebody that the Rockies will rely on.
Chris Rusin is the most underrated reliever in the bullpen and, perhaps, all of baseball. He had an ERA of 2.65 in 60 games and 85 innings for the Rockies last season. If you want to see more about why he’s underrated, check out this article by our very own Mike Macesich.
I think that if Bud Black decided to only go with 12 pitchers, Oberg would be the obvious man out of the picture. He had an ERA of 4.94 last season and he’s the only man that has a minor league option left of the four.
Long Reliever (1): Antonio Senzatela
Our very own Brady Vernon had this article from a few days ago talking about Senzatela could bounce between the bullpen and starting and I completely agree. However, I think that he will start the season in the bullpen
Players on the outside looking in
Even with having an eight man bullpen, there are still a lot of names that won’t make it, in my estimation. They include Carlos Estevez, Jeff Hoffman (who is starting the Rockies first spring training game later today), Zac Rosscup, and Jairo Diaz.
Each of those four spent time with the Rockies last season but I think that in the event of an injury, one of those four will definitely be called up as a replacement.