The left-handed relievers: Lucas Gilbreath and Ben Bowden
Lucas Gilbreath, as we’ve discussed before, was a great, under-the-radar story for the Colorado Rockies in 2021. He was, arguably, their best reliever for the final three months of the season.
He had the highest groundball rate of any of the Rockies relievers with at least 40 innings pitched in 2021 and had a great ERA at Coors Field. His problem in 2022 will be trying to avoid the “sophomore slump,” when opponents will be able to adapt to his pitching. Can he combat that?
Ben Bowden was a rookie like Gilbreath in the 2021 season but he didn’t see as much success. He had a 6.56 ERA on the season in 39 appearances. While he did struggle with his control (5.3 BB/9) and his hit rate (11.1 H/9), he did suffer from some bad luck. He had a FIP of 4.85 and opponents had a high BABIP (.362).
In other words, there are plenty of things he needs to improve on but the results suggest that he was worse than he was. But if the Rockies have to have an eight-man bullpen (in other words, a 13-man pitching staff), Bowden or Jordan Sheffield would likely be the odd man out because they have minor league options, less MLB service time, and (for Bowden) less MLB success.