Where does this leave the Rockies? They’re losing their dominant eighth-inning setup man, but as Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another one opens.”
Enter Scott Oberg.
Oberg emerged as one of the top arms in the Rockies bullpen in 2018. After an underwhelming first three years in Colorado when he couldn’t get his ERA under 4.94, Oberg broke out in a big way. He appeared in 56 games and pitched 58.2 innings, with a 2.45 ERA that was just a hair higher than Ottavino’s 2.43. Oberg’s ERA+ was 192, again just below Ottavino’s 193. His 0.989 WHIP ended up being better than Ottavino’s 0.991. Finally, Oberg’s 1.3 fWAR was, you guessed it, second-best of the 2018 Rockies bullpen, behind Ottavino’s 2.0.
He was also the one to whom Bud Black went to close out the National League Wild Card Game in the 13th inning, when he pitched an inning and a third and struck out all four Cubs he faced. Remember who they were? Kris Bryant, Terrance Gore, Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr.
Oberg is most likely the favorite to take over for Ottavino in the eighth inning, but the Rockies’ options don’t stop there.
2018 trade deadline acquisition Seunghwan Oh could also fill that gap if needed. Last season, Oh appeared in the seventh inning 27 times, and the eighth inning 30 times, which was the most of any one inning he pitched. As he was called in South Korea and Japan, “The Final Boss” has experience in high-leverage situations.
He didn’t have as spectacular of a 2018 season as Oberg did, but he still pitched very well. Oh finished with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 68.1 innings, as well as an ERA+ of 188. He struck out 79 hitters between his time in Toronto and Colorado, against just 17 walks.
The Rockies will certainly feel the loss of Ottavino, but assuming the guys they still have can embrace the “next man up” mentality, they should be able to carry on without him well.