As the calendar flips to July, contending teams shift their focus to how to better themselves as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches at the end of the month. This includes the Colorado Rockies, who has a major deficiency that needs addressed.
For the Colorado Rockies to make a run at the playoffs, problems in the bullpen must be addressed. The bullpen’s struggles have become so painstakingly obvious that even my father, who is in his mid-70s, had a hot take on how bad they are.
My father with his infinite old-school wisdom, stated how he “hates how Bud Black has zero feel for how to use the bullpen. He relies too much on analytics and not enough on his gut.” While I disagree with the analytics portion, he is spot on with having “zero feel.” However, it is not entirely Black’s fault.
The reason for Black’s struggles with bullpen management is because there are a couple of arms who shouldn’t be pitching in the majors and the others have been terribly inconsistent. Prime example came Sunday afternoon, against the Dodgers, when the usually reliable Chad Bettis blew a one-run lead by giving up six runs while only recording one out.
The problem runs much deeper than just Bettis. Sorry Jairo Diaz and Jesus Tinoco, but they should not be in the Major Leagues. They have plenty of potential and Tinoco has pitched well in his four appearances, but they have been forced into some high-pressure situations that they are not ready for.
The Rockies could really benefit from Seunghwan Oh returning to his former self as he is currently on the IL and will have ample time in the minors to iron things out. Whether or not Oh figures things out, the Rockies will likely look to add a veteran reliever who has experience in those high-stress situations.
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The even the few bright spots by Scott Oberg, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee have some flaws. Oberg and Shaw have been used so much that they are starting to become overworked and losing some effectiveness. Shaw is second in the Majors in appearances and they both are in the top 20 of innings pitched by relievers.
For McGee, he has put up some fantastic numbers but he has been used improperly because he is the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen. Considering some the big left-handed bats in the NL West, if there is one move the Rockies must make at the deadline, it is acquiring another lefty reliever.
Finally, I can’t forget to mention closer Wade Davis and his horrible 4-for-6 in save opportunities and his 10.45 ERA in the month of June. Surprisingly, I am one of the few that is not concerned … yet. His struggles remind me of 2017, when Greg Holland went through an atrocious August where he went 1-4 with a 13.50 ERA. Luckily he rebounded and had a great September and helped lead the Rockies to the postseason. Unless Davis continues to struggle the next few weeks, I am not ready to press the panic button.
It is hard for Bud Black to get a feel for the Rockies’ bullpen when it has been so inconsistent. With the trade deadline approaching, an added new face or two could be exactly what Black needs to find that feel.