LAS VEGAS — Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich made a big splash at last year’s Winter Meetings by spending big on his bullpen. However, as the 2018 season progressed, it was clear that some of the money he spent did not provide a good return of investment.
The Colorado Rockies spent a record amount on their bullpen last offseason, inking Wade Davis as their closer and adding Bryan Shaw as a set-up man. Additionally, Jake McGee was re-signed to provide a solid left-hander in the bullpen. Davis came through many times, posting a franchise-record 43 saves but also recording a 4.13 ERA, by far his highest mark since the 2013 campaign.
Shaw, however, completely imploded, logging a career-high 5.93 ERA and allowing 70 hits in 54.2 innings. He didn’t make Colorado’s postseason roster and was often a target of boos raining down from the Coors Field faithful. McGee, meanwhile, made the Wild Card roster but was omitted from the National League Division series roster. His 6.49 ERA was a career-high, as were the 10 home runs he allowed.
All of the players mentioned above are coming back in 2019 … and Colorado needs them to perform better than they did last season. It’s that simple and Bridich made that very clear in his comments to Rox Pile and other media members on Tuesday night.
"“I don’t see us doing anything to the degree as I chose to do last year at this time,” Bridich said when he was asked about adding to the bullpen again this offseason. “We need last year’s decisions to pitch better than they did in 2018. It’s not a lack of talent or a sudden inability to perform well. But they need to do a better job.”"
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With Adam Ottavino likely leaving the Rockies in free agency, Colorado has a huge hole to fill. Can one of last year’s high-priced set-up men step up and perform as they have in years past? What about Chris Rusin, who also regressed last season from his 2017 stats? Bridich says it’s a must for this year’s team.
"“The bottom line is the bullpen is that if Bryan and Jake and Chris pitch to their abilities, we are most likely a very different sort of a bullpen,” Bridich said. “Adam did a wonderful job in helping to keep our pen together and getting us into the playoffs. In a lot of ways, he helped to carry us through some significant struggles of some of his teammates.“The other guys are veterans and pros, and they need to do a better job.”"
Bridich said ways to hopefully make next year better for Shaw, McGee and Rusin have been underway even before the Rockies fell to the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS.
"“There were conversations had and plans set forth even before the season was done with some of those guys. ‘This is what it is for 2018, but let’s honestly self-evaluate. Let’s put our guard down and figure out together how does this get better for the future.’ We certainly still believe in those guys but they have a job to do and, ultimately, it’s on them, right?”"
It is … and the Rockies need for each of them to begin spring training with a mindset that their individual successes are paramount to the team’s success.
"“We have a number of guys that we think can bounce back from off years, Shaw, McGee, to name those guys right up front,” Colorado manager Bud Black said on Tuesday. “I think their performance will be key. They’ve done it before.”"
Now the Rockies will need them to do it again in 2019.