Prior to the 2017 season, the Colorado Rockies were in search for some bullpen help that could improve upon the 4.83 ERA that was 20th in Major League Baseball in 2016. That search lead them to veteran hard-throwing left-hander Mike Dunn.
In Mike Dunn‘s previous six seasons with the Miami Marlins, he posted a 3.59 ERA with 357 strikeouts in 328 innings in 405 appearances. His upper-90s fastball to go along with these excellent numbers looked to be a great fit for the Colorado Rockies as they agreed to a three-year, $19 million contract.
Unfortunately, to put it mildly, Dunn has been a disappointment since signing with the Rockies as his tenure in Colorado has been filled with inconsistency and injuries. The 2017 season was up and down as he posted a 4.47 ERA in 50.1 innings over 68 appearances. Then to make things worse, his 2018 was derailed by a horrific shoulder injury that The Denver Post‘s Patrick Saunders described in this recent article that ended his season in early July after only 25 appearances and an ugly 9.00 ERA.
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So far this spring, the 33-year-old appears to be fully recovered from his career-saving surgery in September. In eight innings of work, he has allowed no earned runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts. Now that he is healthy, Dunn and Rockies both have a lot riding on his newly reconstructed shoulder.
For the Rockies, with fellow lefties Chris Rusin to miss the start of the season with a back injury and Jake McGee still struggling to find consistency, Dunn will likely be thrust into high-leverage situations to face opposing left-handed hitters out of the bullpen.
For Dunn, a big payday is on the line this season. His contract has a vested fourth-year option worth $6 million if he appears in 60 games in 2019. As long as he stays healthy and is a reliable arm out of the bullpen, there is no reason to believe that Bud Black won’t use him less than 60 times.
Mike Dunn and Rockies have a lot riding on this season. A successful comeback season from shoulder surgery will not only go a long ways toward another playoff run but also a nice financial windfall for Dunn’s pocketbook.