Despite pitching the vast majority of his games in a Rockies uniform during the month of September, Mitchell Boggs is one of the most forgettable players on the 2013 edition of the team. Not because he performed extremely poorly, but because he threw a grand total of just 8.2 innings as a middle reliever for the club.
For Boggs personally, this season was a disaster. Coming off the most successful year of his career in 2012 as the St. Louis Cardinals set up man, the 29 year old Boggs appeared to have eradicated the demons of his past. As you can see here, Boggs spent his entire career prior to 2013 lowering both his BB/9 and ERA while keeping his K/9 remarkably consistent since 2009.
(Data provided by baseballreference.com)
When he arrived in Spring Training this season, the Cardinals envisioned Boggs continuing in the setup role he seemed to have mastered in 2012. However, those plans would change quickly when Jason Motte (The 2012 St. Louis closer) was forced to the disabled list with an elbow injury that would eventually require Tommy John surgery in May. Out of obvious options, the Cardinals turned to Boggs and gave him a chance to close.
It did not go well. In just 10.2 innings work, Boggs gave up 17 hits, allowed 15 earned runs, and issued 12 free passes. By early May, the Cardinals had no choice but to send Boggs down to the minors leagues to work on his control. After a three weeks in Triple-A Memphis and a second stint in St Louis beginning in late May, it was becoming obvious to the Cardinals that he was not going to be a useful arm for them in 2013.
On July 9th, the Cardinal dealt Boggs to the Rockies in exchange for $206,400 from their pool of international signing bonus money.
His Rockies career begin in Tulsa where he threw six innings in four outings for the Drillers without walking a batter. Colorado likely would have kept him down there longer to continue working on his peripherals, but when Rafael Betancourt went on the DL for the second time this season in mid July, the Rockies gave him a call up to Denver to sure up the pen.
Boggs made his Rockies debut on July 20th against the Cubs with Colorado up by six. He worked a scoreless inning but showed struggles with control in taking 24 pitches to record three outs. After one more outing in a lopsided game on the 25th of July against the Marlins, the Rockies sent Boggs down to Colorado Springs to once again work on his control.
In 12 outings for the Sky Sox, Boggs posted an 8.27 ERA and generally struggled in his new home. Even worse, Boggs walked 11 while striking out just seven in 16.1 innings of work.
With the Sky Sox season over and the Rockies playing meaningless game in September, Boggs was brought back to the majors again to get more work. He pitched seven times for the Rockies over the last three weeks of the season, but only once in a game where the margin was less than three runs in either direction.
On the surface, Boggs seemed to show improvement posting a 3.86 ERA in brief work, but it's likely nothing more than a mirage as he also allowed opposing hitters to post a .933 OPS against him in September and walked just as many as he struck out.
2013 Grade with the Rockies: F
|2013 - Mitchell Boggs||0-0||9||0||0||0||0||0||8.2||7||3||3||2||5||5||3.12||1.38|
Boggs didn't post a terrible ERA and actually was not responsible for any of the Rockies loses this season, but he was brought here to improve the control problems he developed in St. Louis this spring and he showed zero signs of doing that. From that standpoint, his three months with the Rockies were a failure.
Boggs made $1.475 million in 2013 and won't be getting much of a raise after his train wreck of a season despite being arbitration eligible. He's under team control through the end of the 2015 if the Rockies want to keep him that long, but if he can't figure out how to throw strikes again, he's useless to them and every other major team.
This could go in any direction from here. 2013 could prove to be an aberration and Boggs could severely cut down his walk total going forward as he's already done once in his career, or it could be the beginning of a very sad ending to a journey the plummeted downward just as it looked like Boggs was becoming a success story in 2012.
Identifying which direction a guy like Boggs goes in from here ahead of time and determining if his problems are fixable is where the good scouts earn their money.