While the news on Wednesday may not have been great for veteran left-hander Kyle Freeland after he suffered a strain in his pitching shoulder Tuesday (see the update here), another Colorado Rockies left-hander continues to impress in the team’s bullpen.
Ben Bowden is making a push for the Colorado Rockies Opening Day bullpen.
Ben Bowden, the Rockies’ second round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft, notched a scoreless inning of relief — which included a pair of strikeouts — to highlight the pitching performances of relievers in Colorado’s 4-1 loss Tuesday to Oakland.
The scoreless inning turned in by Bowden, who played collegiately at Vanderbilt University, lowered his ERA in Cactus League action to 1.35 (one earned run allowed on three hits in 6.2 innings on the mound).
Entering the team’s road game Wednesday against Milwaukee, Bowden has eight appearances this spring, the most of any starter or reliever for the Rox.
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His scoreless inning against the A’s on Tuesday marked the seventh straight outing in which Bowden has not allowed a run. During that span, he has surrendered just one hit while holding opponents hitless in his last five outings. The only run he has permitted this season was during a one-inning stint in his initial appearance March 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
All those numbers bode well for the Lynn, Mass., native, who is attending his third Major League spring training but has yet to throw a pitch in regular-season action in the Majors.
"“The key for Ben is to stay healthy,” Rockies manager Bud Black told media earlier in spring training. “If he does that, he’s continue to build arm strength. He’ll get more repetitions. His pitching will become more polished. He really has conviction in his stuff. He’s on the attack.”"
In his eight appearances this spring, all in relief, Bowden has 11 strikeouts with just two walks.
Bowden spent 2020 at the Rockies’ alternate site in Denver after having split time during the 2019 campaign between Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Hartford.
While at Hartford, he whiffed 42 in just 25.2 innings while posting a nifty 1.05 ERA.
With Colorado searching for a reliable left-handed reliever after finishing the abbreviated 2020 season with no left-handers in the bullpen, Bowden could become a valuable commodity this season.
Black addressed Bowden’s progression this spring in comments made to media on Wednesday morning.
"“Ben has had a really good spring statistically and to our critical eyes,” he said. “It has been pretty impressive.”"
Bowden, who missed the 2017 campaign due to shoulder surgery, has remained healthy so far this spring.
"“He is putting his best foot forward and the big thing with him is he’s healthy, which is a great thing,” Black said alluding to the comments he made earlier this spring about the importance of Bowden remaining injury-free."
If the Rockies end up going with 13 (or possibly 14) pitchers to start the 2021 season, coupled with the uncertainty of Freeland’s status to begin the year, Bowden could be in line to make the team’s Opening Day roster.
"“As it comes down to it next week, we are going to have to make some hard decisions. Ben is making it hard on us, which is what we want,” Black noted on Wednesday. “We want guys pitching well and playing well but I am excited for him … there are some good things with Ben.”"
With the numbers Bowden has posted this spring, he has put himself in the conversation to be in the bullpen when Colorado opens the season April 1 at Coors Field against the Dodgers.