DENVER – The Colorado Rockies have acquired Seunghwan Oh from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league infielder Chad Spanberger, minor league outfielder Forrest Wall and a player to be named later. The right-handed 36-year-old Korean was in his first season north of the border after two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Rockies badly needed another reliever after investing $106 million into their bullpen this offseason, only to see it have the worst ERA in the National League. It’s truly been Adam Ottavino, a hope and a prayer for most of the season, save for the last month.
Oh’s 2.68 ERA over 47 innings this year will benefit the Rockies in a big way. Consider the fact that Oh has pitched nearly 60 innings in each of his three big league seasons and has done it with a sub-3.00 ERA leads you to the conclusion of him being a very solid reliever. At times, he was even the closer for the Cardinals after Trevor Rosenthal got hurt, accumulating 41 saves since the start of 2016.
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This season, he has worked multiple innings in six of his 48 appearances, came on with runners inherited 13 times and his usage has been mostly split into thirds between the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. He has pitched with the Jays behind, ahead and tied, on no days rest and a lot of times on one day of rest.
Simply put, Oh gets the ball in any situation and does his job.
This was the task that Chris Rusin accomplished from the left side in 2017 … and which he has failed to do in 2018. The Rockies needed a reliable everyman for their bullpen and they got it.
Colorado’s bullpen has actually been slightly better against left-handed batters than righties, despite not having a continent lefty. Oh is much better against right-handers than left-handers with a .491 point difference in OPS between the two sides of the plate.
The Rockies still need a left-handed reliever particularly with the question marks about Mike Dunn even returning in 2018, Chris Rusin’s struggles and Jake McGee‘s reverse splits. Oh, coupled with Scott Oberg, could lock down the middle innings to bridge from starter to Ottavino.
And with a team option for 2019, Oh is a nice contingency plan if the Rockies are unable to re-sign Ottavino, who is a free agent at season’s end.
Now, here is one negative note about Oh, who was one of the game’s premier relievers in 2016. His flyball rate has come up 10% and a 50% flyball rate at Coors Field isn’t amazing.
All in all, there is no perfect fit … but Oh is a really nice one. He does not solve all of Colorado’s problems or deem them done before this deadline … but it’s a start and a good one at that.