2024 STEAMER Projections think the consistency and upside could build a solid bullpen

Rockies' pitching has been a weak point, but the bullpen could be surprisingly good according to the STEAMER projections.
Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies
Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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Every year, FanGraphs releases their projections for the year, the STEAMER projections. They are some of the most widely used projections for writers and fans to look at. It is a time where we can think about, "If this player meets those projections our team is going to be so much better" or possibly (like in the Rockies situation), "If this player could really figure some things out, that type of season would be valuable for the growth of this team." Last Friday, we took a look at a solid group from last year, the 2024 projections for the Rockies' catchers. We continued our series by looking at FanGraphs 2024 projections for the Rockies starting rotation. Now, we look to an interesting group with some upside in 2024, the bullpen.

For a Rockies team that used 26 different pitchers out of the bullpen in 2023, you would think that it would be a huge weakness. While there are certainly some question marks, they do have a few pitchers that have provided some legitimate stability. Pitching in Colorado can be tough, but there are a few pitchers that have found success and the STEAMER predictions for 2024 think that the Rockies bullpen could actually be halfway decent, with a couple of bullpen arms really stepping up.

Pitcher

GP

IP

ERA

K/9

BB/9

fWAR

Justin Lawrence

66

66

4.52

8.99

4.24

0.4

Tyler Kinley

64

64

4.89

8.88

3.48

.3

Daniel Bard

63

63

5.39

8.33

5.3

-0.1

Jake Bird

62

62

4.6

7.84

3.46

0.4

Nick Mears

60

60

5.16

8.98

5.01

0.1

Jalen Beeks

58

58

4.29

9.0

3.51

0.5

Gabin Hollowell

54

54

5.31

8.11

3.94

-0.1

Anthony Molina

49

72

5.52

5.88

2.74

0.0

Lucas Gilbreath

48

48

4.62

9.15

4.57

0.2

Victor Vodnik

38

38

4.72

8.84

4.45

0.1

Evan Justice

35

35

4.94

9.33

4.94

0

Riley Pint

33

33

4.95

8.77

5.63

0

All information listed above comes from FanGraphs.com

Justin Lawrence will lead an inexperienced bullpen staff, but STEAMER predicts a couple other arms will step up this year

There is no doubt that Justin Lawrence is the leader and best arm out of this bullpen. He was called upon over 70 times in 2023; for a bullpen that seemed like a revolving door, Lawrence was the constant arm that Bud Black could depend on. 2024 will be more of the same for Lawrence, hopefully there is some help and more depth, but Lawrence should approach 70 appearances again.

Beeks has the potential to be one of the best arms in this group

One of the intriguing arms that is new to the Rockies pen is Jalen Beeks. The STEAMER predictions for him seem fairly uninspiring, but when you look at what he has done in the past, there is certainly some upside. In 2020, Beeks only threw 19.1 innings, but had a strikeout rate of 12.1 per nine, as well as a walk rate of just 1.86 per nine, which led to an ERA of 3.26. He followed that up with a really solid 2022 season, throwing 61 innings, with a career best 2.8 ERA. He posted a solid strikeout rate at 10.33 per nine, as well as 3.25 walks per nine. 2023 was a rough season for him, however, throwing 42.1 innings with a 5.95 ERA. He struggled to maintain the elite walk and strikeout rates, regressing back to more of the MLB average (9.99 K/9, 4.46 BB/9). Beeks has always limited home runs, with a career home run rate of .97 per nine. I would expect Beeks to become a solid option this year.

STEAMER predicts that Bird won't replicate his impressive 2023

Jake Bird was one of the more overlooked relievers in 2023, throwing 89.1 innings with a 4.33 ERA, putting up a solid 1.5 fWAR (highest fWAR in the Rockies' bullpen in 2023). The predictions for him this year don't think that he can follow it up. They expect him to throw over 25 innings less, with a similar strikeout rate, but a higher walk rate and ERA.I could see Bird not reaching the 89-inning mark again (it was the most innings pitched in his professional career), but I would expect him to be as good as he was last year. He should be called on quite a bit by Bud Black.

The bullpen is going to be called upon quite a bit in 2024. Hopefully with a few of the additions to the starting rotation, the bullpen won't be used quite as much as they were in 2023 (seventh most innings pitched in relief). With the consistency of Lawrence and Bard, along with the upside offered by Beeks, Bird, and Tyler Kinley, this unit has the ability to become a pretty solid bullpen this year.