Justin Lawrence was a 12th round pick all the way back in 2015 out of Daytona Junior College in Florida. He has become the constant in an otherwise revolving door of relievers for Bud Black. The Rockies depended on Lawrence a lot in 2023, and he will hear his name called quite a bit in 2024. Lawrence is an extremely valuable piece for this bullpen, and I almost put him higher on this list because of how crucial he's become.
Justin Lawrence dependability earns him the No. 7 spot in our Rockies 2024 Player Rankings
In only his second full season in the Rockies bullpen, Lawrence has proven to be the best and most reliable arm. He started the season off hot, putting up a 2.08 ERA in April. He nearly doubled his innings from 2022, throwing 75 innings and lowering his ERA from 5.70 to 3.72, putting up a 1.6 fWAR. If you take away a miserable August, his ERA drops to 3.12 (that is impressive for Coors Field). His strikeout rate decreased slightly, down to 9.36 K/9, which is still a very solid number. What Lawrence does extremely well is limit home runs, as evidenced by his .6 HR/9, which is really impressive considering over 55% of his innings came at Coors Field.
In a day and age where relievers rely heavily on upper 90s and 100 mph fastballs, Lawrence approaches the game differently. He has a good fastball, averaging 95.4 mph, but his best pitch is his sweeper (97th percentile breaking run value). In 2023, he used his sweeper 48.7% of the time, up about 4%, where opponents hit just .149 against it. The average exit velocity was just 84.8 mph (85th percentile), about 5 mph lower than the major league average.
We saw Lawrence take a big step forward and become the most dependable arm for the Rockies. Expect another big step forward from Lawrence in 2024. We should see the same consistency and reliability this young and inexperienced staff needs. Lawrence will be called upon for another 70+ innings and expected to be the leader of this bullpen.