Colorado Rockies: The battles that will loom for 2021 bullpen spots

Aug 12, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Yency Almonte (62) pitches in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Yency Almonte (62) pitches in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Colorado Rockies pitcher Mychal Givens
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 04: Relief pitcher Mychal Givens #60 of the Colorado Rockies throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 4, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

On the list of 10 players, there are some who can be considered “sure bets” to make the roster. That includes a back end of the bullpen that will revolve around veterans Daniel Bard, Mychal Givens, and Scott Oberg. Of course, we are plugging Oberg in here believing that he will be able to return to the mound in 2021 after losing the entire 2020 season to blood clots, a condition that has forced him from the mound three different times in his career. Still, his throwing routine seems to indicate he is exactly on track for a return.

So there are three spots right there, and you can likely include Yency Almonte in that mix as well after the 26-year-old right-hander posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, and 181 ERA+ and became one of positive stories for the Rockies of the 2020 season.

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Another “for sure” right-hander in the bullpen in 2021 will be recent Rule 5 pickup Jordan Sheffield, who the Rockies selected from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 36th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Sheffield has never pitched above Double-A, but, with Rule 5 requirements, will be required to be on the Colorado roster for the entire 2021 campaign (if healthy).

If the Rockies choose not to put Sheffield on the 26-man roster, they’ll have to place him on waivers.

Carlos Estevez is also a “for sure” on the list as he has no minor league options left heading into the campaign. Last year, he appeared in a club-high 26 games (tied for the sixth-most appearances in the National League), but ended the year on a down note. He was scored upon twice through his first 15 appearances through Aug. 25 (logging a 2.25 ERA), but went 0-3 with a 18.00 ERA (allowing 16 earned runs in 8.0 innings) over his last 11 appearances from August 29 through the end of the season. He also surrendered five of his six home runs given up in the season over that span.

Jairo Diaz is another pitcher out of options and in need of a rebound season in 2021. He allowed runs in eight of his 24 appearances, including multiple runs seven times and a career-high seven runs on September 1 against San Francisco.

Robert Stephenson, acquired from Cincinnati in the Jeff Hoffman trade, also enters the season without minor league options. He’ll likely fill the bill as Colorado’s long reliever in 2021.

If you’re keeping track, that’s eight right there. On the surface, that’s your bullpen for the 2021 campaign. But there are more to things with this bullpen than what appears on the surface.

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