With Mychal Givens and the Colorado Rockies reaching an agreement before the arbitration deadline, the right-handed reliever can now focus on what he must do to succeed at pitching in Denver.
On Thursday, news broke that the Colorado Rockies had avoided arbitration and reached a one-year deal with relief pitcher Mychal Givens, reportedly worth $4.05 million. That number will make him the highest-paid member of the Rockies bullpen, per calculations from Cot’s Contracts.
Acquired just before the trade deadline during last year’s pandemic-shortened season, Givens posted a 6.75 ERA, 9.41 FIP, and 1.393 WHIP (along with one save) in 9.1 innings covering 10 games. In 10 of those games, opponents pushed runs across the plate against Givens five times.
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As a member of the Rockies, Givens was effective against left-handers (.118, 2-for-17) but struggled against right-handers (.368, 7-for-19). Overall, the short time Givens spent with the Rockies was a mixed bag, and that has to change now that Givens will start the season with the team and can become accustomed to pitching at altitude and the adjustments that must be made traveling between Denver and other cities.
Part of that adjustment will be ensuring that he can keep the ball from not flying over the Coors Field fences. Opposing hitters popped two home runs in just 16 plate appearances against him in Denver last year, a trend that must be put to a halt if Givens is to succeed at 20th and Blake. Ironically, those two homers were part of just three hits surrendered by Givens in Denver.
Colorado’s bullpen is looking for a fresh start from a 2020 that saw it (as a unit) post the highest single-season ERA (6.77) in franchise history. And that new high was set by more than a full run as the previous worst combined performance by the bullpen was 5.72 in 1999. Givens will be a key part of that bullpen turnaround if it is to happen in 2021.
Givens has the tools to help solidify the back end of the bullpen, as shown by his career 3.32 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 306 games over six years with the Baltimore Orioles. If (and yes, these are certainly “ifs”) Scott Oberg can return to form and Daniel Bard can continue the successful run that saw him earn the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year award last season, Givens has the skills to become part of a tough trio available to close out games for Colorado. That scenario can also allow reliever Yency Almonte to continue his emergence in whatever role manager Bud Black feels fitting.
While 2020 was a short audition for Givens in Denver, there were long-term reasons why Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich traded for him. Team-controlled through the 2022 season and with a successful track record, Givens can hopefully return to form with the Rockies in 2021.