On January 20th, 2013, the Colorado Rockies inked Chris Volstad to a one year $1.5 million deal. The hope was that he could turn into a bargain bin treasure and have a bounce back year as either a serviceable back end starter or useful middle reliever. Instead he turned into a really expensive Sky Sox starter.
Other than a strong rookie campaign with the Marlins in 2008 when he posted a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts, Volstad's career has been largely unimpressive. He's ERA is 5.22 since the start of 2009, and he's never learned to keep hitters off balance enough to compensate for his inability to dominate a lineup with strike outs. After three consecutive below average seasons on the mound in Florida, the Marlins traded their 2005 first round selection to the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Zambrano.
Unfortunately for Volstad, he would only get worse in Chicago. Opposing hitters got fat off his painfully mediocre offerings and managed an .847 OPS against him which ballooned his ERA to an unsightly 6.31. The Cubs saw all they could bear after just one season and placed him on waivers in October where he was claimed by the Royals before being released and granted free agency a month later.
Volstad began his Rockies career in the bullpen where it immediately became obvious that he was not an answer to their pitching depth problems. He entered four games out of the pen over the season's first three weeks and gave up at least one run in all of them. With the Rockies in contention out of the gate, they did not hesitate to send the struggling righty down to AAA Colorado Springs.
He would remain there until June 12th when the Rockies designated Eric Young Jr. for assignment and recalled him to sure up the back end of the bullpen. After two more unsuccessful outings in which he gave up a combined six hits and four runs over two innings, the Rockies sent Volstad down to Colorado Springs again and then designated him for assignment on the 20th of June. Not surprisingly, no other club wanted his services and he was out righted back to Colorado Springs three days later where he would remain for the body of the season.
In a Sky Sox uniform, Volstad wasn't terrible, but he also never gave the Rockies any reason to think about recalling him. He kept his ERA under five (4.58), but he did it by avoiding a truly disastrous start instead of showing flashes of being a major league contributor. Over his last ten starts in Colorado Springs, Volstad never gave up more than five runs in an outing, but he also failed to strike out more than four batters in nine of those ten starts, making him classic AAAA material.
With the season over, Volstad elected free agency earlier this month, effectively ending his tenure with Rockies.
2013 Grade with the Rockies: F
Not just terrible, but extremely expensive for the work he provided which amounted to six relief appearances spread over 8.1 innings in which he gave up at least one run in every outing. His final ERA in a Rockies uniform was 10.80.
Volstad's major league career may be over. He'll be looking for a non roster invite to Spring Training, but even if he gets it, he'll have to really impress his new club to overcoming his lack of swing and miss stuff and earn a roster spot. he didn't do himself any favors in 2013.