Much has been made of the disappointing season the historically-expensive Colorado Rockies‘ bullpen has put together. But, as the season winds down and the Rockies play some of the most critical games in franchise history, the bullpen has finally become a force at the end of ballgames.
The turning point seems to be the trade acquiring right-handed reliever Seunghwan Oh from Toronto. Oh has filled a hole in the bullpen in the innings leading up to Adam Ottavino and Wade Davis … innings that had previously been impossible for the Colorado Rockies to navigate.
This success has led to turnarounds for some of the team’s most struggling relievers. Since the addition of Oh, Bryan Shaw has posted a 3.27 ERA. Left-hander Chris Rusin, who was so valuable last season, seems to have found his stride again, pitching to a 3.60 ERA in September, allowing just two earned runs in the month.
Though the turnaround coincides with the arrival of Oh, it is the emergence of Scott Oberg that has really transformed this bullpen. Oberg has long been seen as a potential threat at the back end of the Rockies’ bullpen, going back to his days as successful minor league closer. Though his first three seasons with the Rockies weren’t as bad as his ERA would suggest, Oberg still struggled to find consistency early in his career.
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That struggle continued into the start of 2018, leading to his demotion at the end of April. Oberg spent most of May pitching for the A+ and Triple-A levels of the Rockies’ minor league system.
But since his return on May 29, Oberg has been as dominant as any reliever in the game, posting a ridiculous 1.08 ERA. During that span, he has held opponents to a .198 batting average and a .510 OPS while striking out nearly a batter an inning. Oberg has been so good that he has actually passed Ottavino for the lowest ERA on the team.
With Oh (2.78) and Oberg (2.22) joining Ottavino (2.25), the Rockies now have three relievers with an ERA below 3.00 who can pave the way for the NL saves leader (Davis) in the ninth.
After several months of disappointment, the Colorado bullpen is finally living up to expectations when it matters most. Led by the trio of O’s, the Rockies’ bullpen has posted the second-lowest ERA in baseball this month, at 2.47, trailing only the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Rockies still might not have a “super bullpen” but this is as close as they’ve been all season. And, right now, they’re as dangerous as any other back end in baseball.