Scottsdale, Arizona — After spending the majority of 2018 on the disabled list with a left oblique strain and right elbow strain, Colorado Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez is looking more and more like a strong potential option for Colorado’s 2019 bullpen.
Carlos Estevez needed just five pitches on Thursday to retire the side during the eighth inning of the Colorado Rockies’ 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. The scoreless inning lowered his ERA for the spring to 2.45 and he has now struck out six in 3.2 innings of work.
The 26-year-old right-hander touched 98 mph in Monday’s impressive ninth-inning performance against the Texas Rangers, showing plenty of movement on his fastball and good location. He followed that with the same kind of performance on Thursday, throwing three heaters down the middle and right past Chicago’s Trent Giambrone for the first out of the frame.
Colorado manager Bud Black has been impressed with what he’s seen from Estevez this spring.
"“Good for Carlos,” Black said after Thursday’s victory. “He’s pitching with a lot of aggressiveness, he’s pounding the strike zone. The slider looks good. So I think he’s really … the fastball is back and he’s turning it loose with a delivery he’s comfortable with. He’s very confident.”"
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That’s a good sign for a player who spent some of the 2016 season as Colorado’s closer (going 11-for-18 in save opportunities and leading all Colorado relievers with 55.0 innings pitched) but then getting stuck in a mechanics overhaul before injuries short-circuited last season. Now all of that seems to be behind him.
With Colorado looking to replace Adam Ottavino in the late innings and Scott Oberg and Seunghwan Oh already representing seemingly reliable options, having Estevez back on top of his power game would be a welcome sign for the Rockies bullpen. A confident and reliable Estevez would also provide a young power arm for the Rockies, especially with veterans Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw still as question marks after disappointing 2018 campaigns.
Colorado has an interesting decision ahead as Estevez is out of minor league options. Knowing that and seeing how he has performed in the spring, another Opening Day roster spot could well be in his future.