Former Colorado Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw knew what this year’s return trip to Coors Field would mean, and that’s not only a return to a place where he admits he didn’t pitch very well in his two seasons in Denver. He also knew it would be about facing his former teammates with him now wearing a Cleveland Guardians uniform.
“I think it’s more fun to come back and pitch against former teammates when you leave a team versus playing in the stadium or thinking about the good or bad that happened there,” Shaw said on Wednesday night after picking up his second consecutive win against the Colorado Rockies. “Facing Chucky (Charlie Blackmon) last night and (Elias) Diaz and (Ryan) McMahon today, that’s fun.”
In his two innings against the Rockies this week, Shaw has not allowed a hit and needing just 24 pitches to get through both frames.
Appearing in his 28th game of the season for Cleveland, Shaw said, for him, it’s about the competition on the mound against players that he once shared a clubhouse with and saw him pitch in a total of 131 games in a Rockies uniform.
“I’m not going to come back here and say, ‘Oh I didn’t pitch well when I was here.’ I know where I’m at now and I know the improvements I’ve made and the things that I’ve done,” Shaw said. “I was thinking about having fun and facing the guys who I enjoy facing.”
The lessons Bryan Shaw has learned and shared since leaving the Colorado Rockies
Since leaving Colorado, Shaw has once again found a home in Cleveland, a team he pitched for for five seasons before signing a deal with the Rockies prior to the 2018 season as part of the infamous “super bullpen” that also included Wade Davis and Jake McGee. Shaw, however, never found his footing in Denver, logging a 5.61 ERA/5.07 FIP/1.547 WHIP.
Shaw says he has taken what he learned in Colorado and shared it with some of the other pitchers in the Guardians bullpen, hoping to give them insight into what the ball does at altitude.
“We’ve talked about starting your pitches in a certain spot because the ball doesn’t move as much here,” Shaw said. “You generally have to locate a little better and put the ball in the spots where you want it a little more, knowing they’re not going to be exactly the same as they always are. But you still go out there and compete with your best pitches.”
Seeing how Shaw has pieced together ERAs of less than 4.00 since leaving the Rockies and returning to Cleveland, it begs the question about the success he has found outside of Denver in the same way pitchers like McGee, Tyler Anderson, Yency Almonte, and other former Rockies have discovered since shedding purple. Shaw, however, says it’s not specifically about life after Colorado for him.
“You look at a lot of different pitchers from different places and that change of atmosphere makes a difference for them,” Shaw said. “It isn’t just leaving Colorado. It’s everywhere. It’s sometimes simply getting out of a location where you weren’t having success and going somewhere to start new.”