Colorado Rockies: Adam Ottavino is having an All-Star season

DENVER, CO – JUNE 19: Adam Ottavino #0 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the New York Mets in the seventh inning of a game at Coors Field on June 19, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

We’ve already discussed the all-star chances of several Colorado Rockies stars here at Rox Pile.  We addressed the cases for Trevor Story (here), DJ LeMahieu (here), Nolan Arenado (here), and Charlie Blackmon (here).  Today, we look at another Rockie having a great season–setup man Adam Ottavino.

Set up men don’t typically get chosen as All-Stars, but the game is changing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see guys like Ottavino or the Brewers’ Josh Hader down in the National League bullpen on July 17.

Ottavino has been the one bright spot in an atrocious Rockies bullpen so far this season.  In a place where it seems giving up runs is contagious, Ottavino has proven to be immune.  As big-money veterans collapse all around him, Ottavino remains unfazed, striking out batters at an unreal clip.

The Rockies have seen glimpses of his talent in past seasons, but after a dedicated offseason spent honing his craft, Ottavino has emerged more dominant than ever.

In 31 2/3 innings Ottavino has surrendered just 9 hits, 3 runs, and 1 home run while striking out 51 batters.  Those numbers strike a big contrast with rest of the arms in the bullpen, for whom giving up just three runs in one inning would be a step in the right direction most nights.

Among major league relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, Ottavino’s 0.85 ERA is second only to the Brewers’ Jeremy Jeffress (0.76).  His ridiculous 0.63 WHIP is second to the Nationals’ Sean Doolittle (0.57).  His 14.49 K/9 is second in the NL among pitchers with at least 30 IP to Hader’s 17.92 (that Brewers ‘pen is looking pretty good).

At 2.0, Ottavino’s WAR is second to the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling (2.4) among NL relievers but Stripling has also made 9 starts this season.  Among all NL pitchers, Ottavino’s WAR is 8th.  An interesting side note, the Rockies are the only team with two of the top 10 NL pitchers according to WAR (Kyle Freeland is fourth at 2.7).

Ottavino is a close second in every major category for relievers (except saves, obviously) and he has done it pitching half his games at Coors Field.  If Rockies hitters get docked for playing in Denver, Ottavino should be given additional credit for his unreal season.

Ottavino has been so good that just having him back healthy has reinvigorated my playoff hopes for this team.  Having an arm that can go an inning-plus without surrendering several runs completely changes how the manager Bud Black navigates the late innings.  Just look at last night’s game against the Mets for example.

The Rockies led at one point 9-2 and led 10-4 at the start of the 7th inning.  The Rockies won the game but not before the Mets rallied to make it 10-8.  The bullpen surrendered 4 runs to make the game close, but fortunately, Ottavino threw an inning and a third of perfect baseball, striking out 3.  If the Rockies hadn’t had Ottavino to turn to, it is very likely that they would have blown another lead late and lost the game.

In the midst of all the chaos in the Rox’ pen, Ottavino has kept his cool and turned into one of the game’s top shutdown relievers.  As such, he deserves recognition for his all-star season.  And if he continues to pitch like this, both home and away, his season will be remembered for a long, long time.