Heading into Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia against the Phillies, Colorado Rockies reliever Tyler Kinley is already in a familiar role out of the bullpen.
It may be a new season, but not much has changed for the 31-year-old right-hander. In 2021, Kinley led the Colorado Rockies with a career-high 70 appearances out of the bullpen, throwing 70.1 innings when called upon. This season, Kinley is once again leading the charge out of the Colorado bullpen, racking up eight appearances through Colorado’s first 15 games.
And Kinley isn’t just making appearances, but he’s making quality appearances as well. He finished off 2021 by not being scored upon in 21 of his final 25 outings, posting a 2.13 ERA during that 25.1-inning stretch. Heading into Philadelphia, Kinley has already struck out nine in 6.1 innings of scoreless work.
Kinley has put in a lot of work for the Rockies since joining the team prior to the 2020 campaign, now with 101 appearances in purple. Kinley smiles and shrugs off the number.
“One thing I pride myself on, and I think we collectively as a group in our bullpen do as well, is availability,” Kinley said. “I think we’re all going to go through stretches where we’re throwing the ball well and when we’re not throwing the ball well. However, most importantly, we need to be available as often as we can.”
With the addition of Alex Colomé into the Rockies bullpen in the offseason, Kinley believes that has added another weapon to what was already a deep relief corps with plenty of options to finish out games. Colomé brings a load of late-inning experience, as shown by three seasons with 30 or more saves during his 10-year MLB career.
“The beauty about so far this year is that we have depth,” Kinley said, speaking of the Rockies bullpen. “We have a lot of options. We have a lot of guys who can contribute in many different roles, and usually that’s how it goes at the beginning the season. You’re going to get guys in different situations. I think the fact that we have the ability to use a lot of guys in a lot of roles should help us over the long haul and give us all more rest in between rather than having to ride the hot hand until he cools off.”
Kinley went through a stretch in mid-April where he pitched in four games over the span of five days. With a total of 32 pitches in those four games, Kinley struck out five and allowed just two hits.
Also, so far this season according to Baseball Savant, no batter has put a barrel on any of Kinley’s 96 pitches. One of the keys to Kinley’s early success? He’s used the fastball more than any other time during his Rockies career. In 2020, Kinley threw his slider 59.8 percent of the time while his fastball usage was at 33.4 percent. This season, Kinley’s fastball usage has risen to 51 percent while his slider usage is down to 45.8 percent.
Call the adjustments another year of learning how to not only pitch at altitude, but also how to make effective pitches at the MLB level. Kinley not only sees that in himself, but also his fellow bullpen mates as well.
“Collectively, from younger guys to older guys, everyone’s gained another year of experience and another year of knowledge and I believe that’s going to pay off for us as a group,” he said.