The back end of the Colorado Rockies bullpen has been a huge question mark in recent games and now Bud Black must find someone new to close out victories.
Dealing with the season-ending injury to Scott Oberg and Wade Davis landing on the 10-day IL due to a shoulder strain, the Colorado Rockies have found themselves in a closer-by-committee to finish off games. The situation worsened Sunday as the tale of two of the closers in the committee took an ugly turn.
Heading to the ninth with a six-run lead, Jairo Diaz, who had become the Rockies’ primary closer, took the mound and preceded to raise everyone’s blood pressure by allowing two runs and loading the bases before departing the game with the tying run at the plate. Carlos Estevez came in and cleaned up the mess, but it may have proved costly. He took a comebacker to the back of his throwing hand that proved to be the final out of the game, then walked off the field in significant pain.
Estevez was evaluated and had x-rays that came back negative, but will likely be unavailable for a short period of time as he recovers. So where does manager Bud Black go from here? He has few main candidates to hand over the ninth inning role.
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Black could stick with Diaz. However, judging by his numbers, especially in recent outings, that could be problematic. He has only given up three earned runs in 8.2 innings of work over 10 appearances, but he has put a ton of stress on the defense. He has allowed 12 hits and six walks running up his WHIP to a horrible 2.08, which is a recipe for disaster.
Could Tyler Kinley find himself in the closer role? He has been solid in his nine appearances this season, except for one extremely ugly blemish. Two appearances ago, he surrendered five runs on four hits and a walk with recording an out. However, before that terrible outing, he had been spotless by not giving up a run or a hit while striking out nine and walking four in 6.1 innings of work. He has, however, walked five in his last two innings (covering three appearances) on the mound, including a pair in Monday’s loss in Houston.
Another candidate could be Yency Almonte. Almonte had been primarily working out of the seventh and eighth innings and had has gotten the most work out of all of Black’s relievers. In 11.2 innings of relief, he has given up eight runs (five earned) with 12 strikeouts and, most importantly, zero walks.
The most likely to be chosen for the role is Daniel Bard, and what an amazing story would that be. Having not pitched in the Majors since 2013, Bard has become the Rockies’ most reliable setup man. In 11 innings of work over 10 games, Bard has allowed five runs while striking out 13 and walking one with a 1.27 WHIP.
Whatever Bud Black decides, he must get better results from his bullpen. They have let down the surprisingly good work of the starting rotation by following them up with a collective 4.75 ERA.