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Rockies 2014 season review: Nick Masset's repaired shoulder couldn't handle late inning role

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Nick Masset overcame the mountainous odds to come back to the majors, then proved to fit well with an ineffective bullpen.

Nick Masset walks in a run in the eighth inning, which unfortunately was not out of character.
Nick Masset walks in a run in the eighth inning, which unfortunately was not out of character.
Doug Pensinger

Players like Nick Masset are the secret to reaching the postseason.  Sure, you need superstars and pitching.  But cheap role players that blossom are the real ticket.  The Giants beat the best team in the NL despite losing the game that Madison Bumgarner started.  Two big keys:  Ryan Vogelsong outpitched Gio Gonzalez in Game 4, and Yusmeiro Petit pitched six dominant innings in extra innings for the win in a gutpunch  of a Game 2 to Washington.

The significance of Vogelsong and Petit?  Both were scooped up by the Giants after each were out of the majors for several years.  Vogelsong led the Giants in WAR for much of his first year.  Petit set an MLB record this year.  General managers need to cash in on those guys every once in a while.

The Rockies were hoping Nick Masset would be one of those success stories.  A former late inning reliever for Cincinnati, Masset missed all of 2012 after shoulder surgery on his anterior capsule, then missed all of 2013 with shoulder surgery again, this time to combat thoracis outlet syndrome.  The Rockies took a flyer on Masset in February, and within a month, Masset had a staph infection at the site of his shoulder surgery.

That Masset reached the majors after all of those hurdles was remarkable enough. Then he kept his ERA under 3.50 for most of his first two months in the majors.  Due to injuries an ineffectiveness in the bullpen, Walt Weiss gave Masset a shot at the late inning role.

It did not go so well.

  • The Rockies ranked dead last in OPS against in the eighth inning.
  • Masset finished the year with the 3rd most batters faced in the eighth inning, trailing only Rex Brothers and Adam Ottavino. Out of every pitcher that appeared in more than 3 games in the 8th inning, Masset's .880 OPS was the highest on the team.
  • Masset allowed an OPS of 1.192 in the 7th inning, highest among Rockies relievers not named Boone Logan with more than 10 batters faced.
  • When Nick Masset was on the mound, it was likely in these two innings, as 126 off 211 (60%) of his batters faced came in those two innings.
Ultimately, the Rockies bullpen was in such shambles, they were forced to lean on a non-roster invitee with a bum shoulder into late innings work.  Masset hung in there, but it worked out about as effectively as one would expect.  At least he has an obscure record to hold onto.