One of the early surprises for the Colorado Rockies in what has been an underwhelming start to the season has been the relatively acceptable performance by the team’s bullpen. But that performance can still be improved upon.
The Colorado Rockies currently sit 12th in baseball and sixth in the National League in reliever ERA at 4.02. Their four blown saves are also slightly above middle-of-the-pack. This is a huge improvement for a team that had one of the worst bullpens in baseball last season. But most of that success came early in the season.
In the last 30 days, Rockies relievers are in the bottom 10 in baseball in ERA. Some of that has come from stress and overwork that is the result of an under-performing starting rotation.
Oddly enough, though, the majority of relievers have actually seen a surprising amount of success in 2019.
Discarding Jake McGee‘s two-plus innings pitched, the Rockies have utilized 10 relievers this season. Interestingly, the Rockies have only used three relievers this season with ERA’s over 3.60. The other seven are all at or under 3.60, including five who are under 3.00. Scott Oberg is at 1.77
Those seven pitchers have given up a grand total of 36 earned runs so far this season. The problem is, the three relievers over 3.60 have given up the exact same number of earned runs.
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One of those pitchers over 3.60, Mike Dunn, has put together an impressive .216 batting average against and 1.05 WHIP despite yielding 8 earned runs in only 14 1/3 innings pitched for a troubling 5.02 ERA. The other two struggling relievers, Seunghwan Oh and DJ Johnson both have ERAs over 9, meaning they’ve been responsible for more runs than outs.
The return of lefty Chris Rusin could be key since the Rockies have been using Dunn as their primary left-handed specialist.
Yency Almonte had been one of the bright spots out of the ‘pen, posting a 2.70 ERA and .189 batting average against. Once he manages to lower his walk rate a little more, he’ll be one of the Rockies’ best relief options. Other young arms like Almonte’s might not be far off as the Rockies have several promising young relievers in their system that could make their bullpen resemble the young ‘pens of teams such as the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.
One name that stands out is Jairo Diaz, who has battled through a lot in his career and is currently working on an astonishing 0.45 ERA in 20 innings pitched at Triple-A Albuquerque, having surrendered just one run all season.
If the relievers who have had success can continue to perform and the Rockies manage to replace struggling relievers with more consistent arms, they might finally have that super bullpen everyone’s been talking about.