The Colorado Rockies spent $100-plus million on their bullpen this offseason, so it makes sense that two of the game’s very best call Denver home.
Except none of the players the Colorado Rockies ponied up for ended up with the superb seasons that we’re talking about.
The first is Adam Ottavino, who has blown just about everyone in baseball away with his slider. That’s well documented.
The other is a fellow right-hander Scott Oberg. He’s gone largely unnoticed.
The 28-year-old has a 7-0 record with a 2.22 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 2018. His 2.3 rWAR is fifth-best amongst relievers in the National League and his 48 ERA- is sixth.
Put simply, Oberg has been one of the best and most reliable late-game pitchers in baseball. And frankly, it’s a bit surprising.
It’s surprising for plenty of reasons across the board … but here’s the one on-field reason that explains, not originates the unexpectedness: Oberg’s average fastball velocity is 96 mph, which is among the 20 best relievers in the National League.
It doesn’t take a major breakdown to tell you that more velocity is good and that it plays at the Major League level. But even in a league where it’s common to see several players in a game throw 95 mph-plus, Oberg is one of just 59 big leaguers in the past two years to break the 100 mph mark, topping at 101 last summer.
So the next questions are quite fascinating: Why has Oberg struggled so much and why is surprising that he’s become elite?
Let’s take a look…