Colorado Rockies make roster moves which will impact Opening Day

On Monday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies made some notable roster moves as spring training rolled on. Some of the moves involving pitching will likely determine which way the Rockies will take their Opening Day bullpen.

Here are Monday’s pitching moves of note for the Colorado Rockies.

Among the players optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday was left-handed reliever Phillip Diehl. The 26-year-old left-hander has given up four home runs in 5.2 innings pitched this spring, helping elevate his ERA to 12.71. Diehl was contending to open the season with the Rockies for the second straight season after being acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees in 2019.

The news that Diehl is heading to Triple-A means that the Rockies could well start the season without a left-hander in the bullpen … unless Ben Bowden is called up to the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. Bowden has impressed so far this spring, posting a 1.59 ERA and having opponents bat .150 against him in 5.2 innings. We recently picked Bowden as one of three players who could make their MLB debuts for the Rockies in 2021.

Of course, Rockies fans remember the end of the 2020 season when Colorado was forced to go most of the month of September without a left-hander coming out of the bullpen. That was because the two southpaw relievers who pitched for the Rockies in 2020, Diehl and James Pazos, were neither effective in their roles.

Bowden could well be part of a new-look Rockies bullpen in 2021 that could include Scott Oberg, who is expected to return after missing last season after once again battling blood clots, as well as Robert Stephenson, who was obtained in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds in November. It’s possible that Jordan Sheffield, a Rule 5 pickup this offseason, could make the bullpen as well, adding another new option for Rockies manager Bud Black in 2021.

Also sent to Triple-A on Monday was right-hander Antonio Santos, who appeared in four games for the Rockies in 2020 but has pitched just one inning this spring.

In other roster moves, the Rockies reassigned non-roster invitees Brian Gonzalez (left-handed pitcher), Jameson Hannah (outfielder), Ryan Rolison (left-handed pitcher), and Chad Smith (right-handed pitcher) to Minor League Camp. Of particular note in that group is Rolison, Colorado’s top pitching prospect who was making his first appearance at a Rockies spring training.

The Rockies now have 40 players remaining in Major League Spring Training Camp, including 10 non-roster players.