Is Jairo Diaz the key to the 2020 Colorado Rockies’ bullpen?
By Luke Mullins
At the end of a lost season in 2019, the Colorado Rockies caught a glimpse of some of the pieces that can help the team begin to turn things around in 2020.
We’ve already discussed Garrett Hampson (here) and Sam Hilliard (here) and today we will look at one of the Colorado Rockies‘ biggest weaknesses last season (the bullpen) and the player who could be the key to turning it around — Jairo Diaz.
For as inconsistent as Diaz has been throughout his career, he has been twice as resilient. He battled back from injury and, most recently, the passing of his wife to post a career year in 2019, finishing the year as the club’s closer in the absence of Scott Oberg.
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Diaz’s resurgence was one of a few good story lines for a disappointing team this past year. After July 25, Diaz posted a very solid 3.07 ERA with more than a strikeout an inning. Diaz’s numbers were inflated by two appearances near the very end of the season in which he surrendered multiple runs, but between July 25 and September 18, his ERA was a sparkling 1.17.
At a time when the disaster that was the Rockies’ bullpen was basically looking for any warm body to take to the mound, Diaz stepped into the void and showed the potential those who have followed him always swore he possessed.
Diaz and Carlos Estevez, who also had a career year in 2019, helped stop the bleeding in the bullpen and showed the promise of becoming potential setup men for Oberg, the probable closer in 2020.
After posting consecutive seasons with ERA’s below 2.50, clearly Oberg is the Rockies’ best arm in the ‘pen when healthy. However, if Diaz can recreate the success he had at the end of last year, he could be the key to turning things around in the bullpen as part of a developing, flame-throwing setup duo with Estevez. If they can take the next step, maybe we can finally close the book on the failed free-agent signings that were supposed to give Colorado a “super bullpen,” and move on to a more promising, homegrown future.