Harrison Musgrave has been groomed to be a starting pitcher, but with a roster spot available in the Rockies bullpen, Musgrave is prepared to take advantage of the opportunity whenever his number is called.
Even dating back to his three-seasons at West Virginia, Harrison Musgrave has been a starting pitcher for almost all of his baseball career. In 39 starts during his time in Morgantown, West Virginia, Musgrave recorded a record of 18-6, which led him to being drafted by the Rockies in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB draft. In his five seasons in the Rockies system, Musgrave has appeared in 80 baseball games, 78 of those games coming as a starting pitcher. Posting a record of 31-19, Musgrave has an ERA just over four in his five minor league seasons, and finally made his MLB debut April 23rd against the San Diego Padres. The Rockies would lose that game 13-5 where Musgrave would throw just one inning of scoreless relief.
Musgrave has appeared in just three games for the Rockies this season and has recorded one strikeout in just two innings of work. After getting called up on April 23rd, Musgrave’s three appearances have forced him to spend a lot of time wondering when the next time is he might pitch, but that might not be a bad thing.
With the Rookies starting rotation pitching as well as they have, the team hasn’t had to go to Musgrave in any long relief situation. In an exclusive interview with our own Jake Shapiro a few days ago, Musgrave discussed how he continues to stay prepared even when he isn’t pitching.
"“You just do your throwing program, throw some touch-and-feels before games, so you’re at least off the mound and everything when they do call to put you in. My role is a good thing if it doesn’t get used… when the time comes I’ll be ready to throw again, but if our starters keep doing really well then there’s no reason too,” said Musgrave."
Starting 78 games in the minor leagues, Musgrave has had to use his experience in spring training to help him prepare if the opportunity came to be a reliever.
"“This is the first time I’ve been a reliever during the season. I relieved in spring training, but that’s a little easier cause you’re scripted to pitch and everything else. There’s a lot of veterans that have helped me with how they get warm, and with what they think, and how they stay prepared and stuff, so its been pretty good.”"
Coming in relief can be night-and-day compared to coming in as the starter.
The main reason is the uncertainty of when you’re going to pitch and how you have to be prepared at all times. Relievers have an idea of when they might pitch, but starters know the scheduled days in which they’re going to pitch and that helps them with their preparation. Coming out of the bullpen can do a lot to you mentally, and its something that Musgrave has put a lot of time into so he’s ready whenever his number is called.
"“You kind of just have to know your body, it doesn’t take me really too long too get loose to pitch and everything… maybe like fourth and fifth inning I’ll go out there and do some stretches, move around, cause that’s my time frame and everything. But, it’s a lot different then having your four days where you know exactly where things sit. It’s not too bad, it helps that I can get loose relatively quickly, so I don’t have to go through an extended right before it.”"
Staying loose and prepared at all times will be a big factor when Musgrave is called into duty, but for the Rookies sake, they might be hoping that his number doesn’t get called too often. The Rockies starters have been so good the last couple of weeks that some of the guys in the bullpen have suffered, and Musgrave certainly falls into that category. However, he did see action last night as Rockies starter German Marquez only went 4 2/3 innings allowing 12 hits, 5 runs (all earned), and 3 walks.
Whenever he does get an extended look, though, it’ll be exciting to see another young pitcher in the Rockies organization toe the rubber for one of the best up and coming pitching staffs in the entire MLB.