Colorado Rockies: Is it time to worry about Bryan Shaw?
By Colin Gaiser
Obviously, we are talking about a small sample size, only 10.2 innings in 13 appearances so far. That nasty outing on April 20 accounts for five of his nine earned runs on the season. And his batting average for balls in play (BABIP) is an insane .389, which is bound to stabilize to something closer to his career average is .290 or last season’s .311. Sure, Coors and its massive outfield will keep his BABIP a little inflated, but expect this number to decline quite a bit.
This also isn’t Shaw’s first poor start to a campaign. His second appearance of 2016 was similar to his rough night against the Cubs, as he gave up five earned runs on four hits, a walk, and a home run against the Chicago White Sox. A few appearances later, he allowed two home runs and four earned runs against the New York Mets. (Just to have some “fun” with a small sample size, at that point his ERA was 24.50 and his FIP was 14.25.) But he would rediscover his form and end the season with an ERA of 3.24 and a FIP of 3.94.
And finally, let’s not forget that despite these shaky outings, Shaw has been pretty good in most appearances this year. His control is encouraging, as he’s allowed just four walks. He pitched for a whole inning or more in eight of his first nine outings. And he employed his slider to great effect this weekend, getting hot-hitting Javier Baez and Willson Contreras to strike out swinging.
Once he rediscovers command of his cutter, he should limit hard contact and improve his ground ball rate. Pitches over the middle of the plate are killing him right now.
Shaw’s problems could just be some combination of growing pains with a new squad and pitching at the most hitter-friendly park in baseball (#Coors). He’s posted better numbers on the road so far, and a positive regression in ground ball rate and BABIP should help matters.
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But if Shaw continues to struggle, then hey — at least we can take solace in Adam Ottavino.