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Friday Rockpile: Don't Forget About Matt Reynolds

July 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Matt Reynolds (51) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field.  The Pirates won 6-9.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
July 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Matt Reynolds (51) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field. The Pirates won 6-9. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

In a 2012 season where pitching of any sort of competence is at an absolute premium for the Rockies, we've heard a lot about young starters, failed starters converted to relief, and we've heard a lot about the bullpen. Deservedly so, as the Rockies bullpen is 5th in the majors in Fangraphs WAR (fWAR), due in large to the simply stupid workload they've had to assume. The only team whose bullpen has had to assume more innings than the Rockies' 341 innings has been the Royals, at 346 innings from the relief staff.

Make no mistake about these facts, either: Colorado's pen, as well as Kansas City's, have been absolutely wonderful, especially when you consider that the Rockies' rotation has assumed the fewest innings in MLB (460 IP) with the Royals one notch ahead of them (461 IP).

Much of the praise for the Rockies' bullpen has rightfully gone to names such as Rafael Betancourt, Rex Brothers, Josh Roenicke, and of COURSE Matt Belisle, but it seems that we haven't heard that much about Matt Reynolds this season, outside of one rumor from Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, claiming that the Mets wanted Matt Reynolds along with Ramon Hernandez in trade.

Reynolds has never been a super impressive reliever. To be an impressive reliever, you have to basically have Closing potential else you're just another arm on the pile. Reynolds kind of fits that "not super impressive" bill well if you use the "future closer" prospect tag as your benchmark. Reynolds also sports a career 3.66 ERA, bolstered by a HR-heavy 4.53 FIP (xFIP thinks he's even better than his ERA would suggest, at a career 3.39 xFIP). What's more impressive is his strikeout rate (over a punchout per inning this season), very good walk rate (just above 2 free passes per 9 innings), and a very improved 46% GB%. The downside of Reynolds is pretty much the fact that he's HR susceptible. Coors Field does that to pitchers, in case you've missed it. Well, that and his completely bipolar platoon splits.

For whatever reason, Matt has never really earned the distinction of being the Late Inning guy. Actually, strike that. Of all innings Matt Reynolds has thrown pitches in, he's gotten more outs in the 8th inning than any other inning he's pitched in for his MLB career (39 innings) - and he's actually had the most success in the 8th as well (2.09 ERA, .541 OPS against). Rex Brothers' prospect pedigree as a Future Closer (TM) tends to give Tracy reason to keep using Brothers in high-leverage situations (I'm OK with it), but the good thing is that the Rockies have a guy like Reynolds to fall back on.

To summarize, Matt Reynolds is a pretty solid reliever. He's probably best being used for entire innings, as nobody can figure out if Reynolds is better against lefties or righties, and he generally does a good job of pitching. Given the fact that Reynolds is still very inexpensive for a few more years here, I'd hate to see him moved. But with a losing team, you have to jump on the right deals when they come.

Off Topic

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