The Colorado Rockies and Pitching: Coal
Going into the 2018 season the Rockies locked up Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee and the moves were heralded by the baseball world as great and that the Rockies’ bullpen would be one of their biggest strengths going forward.
The truth is these moves haven’t worked out and that’s not much of a shock by any means. In 2018, the bullpen was the definition of middle of the road (ranked 15th in fWAR, FIP and ERA-) and was abysmal in 2019 (next to last in both FIP and fWAR, 19th in ERA-).
We’re likely going to see a similar bullpen going into 2020 as no moves were made at the Winter Meetings that are going to help strengthen the bullpen going forward. Us fans will need to bank on the hopes of a rebound from Wade Davis, who posted his worst career numbers in the following categories:
Hard Hit %
fWAR (and probably the others too)
It wasn’t just a bad year for Davis. It was really bad. This may be attributed to an increase in the use of his cutter (up to 34.9% from 28.8% in 2018). While it’d be ideal for the Rockies to trade him to shed payroll, it’s extremely unlikely that they will as Bridich practically refuses to make trades. We’re most likely in for another roller-coaster of a ride with Davis in the bullpen at least until the July trade deadline (you better hope it’s good or else he’ll be here for longer).
Bridich did try to help send reinforcements to the bullpen at the Winter Meetings and did so with the addition of Tyler Kinley. Formerly of the Marlins, Bridich told Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry that the Rockies have “thought highly of (Kinley) for a number of years.” He’s a two pitch pitcher (fastball & slider) and that combo ideally should perform decently at Coors, but the stats show a lot of concern.
While he finished 2019 with an ERA of 3.65 and an ERA- of 87, he posts an extremely concerning WHIP of 1.60. A lot of that is due to his BB% of 16.3% (which would be the highest in the Rockies bullpen in 2019) but you can only expect his WHIP’s going to increase at Coors. His stats with the Marlins don’t exactly inspire confidence and it looks like the Rockies are hoping for an Ottavino type of replacement. That shouldn’t be the expectation for Kinley by any means, but his addition to the bullpen doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence.
We’re likely to experience another subpar season from the bullpen. And even if we’re able to trade Davis, Shaw or McGee in return to shed payroll, it’s unlikely we’ll see enough improvement to turn his bullpen into a consistently above average product in 2020.