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Looking back at Rex Brothers's tenure with the Rockies

As he heads for the door, it's worth remembering the "closer of the future" that never was.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 32nd Purple Row edition (and 137th overall) of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we're counting down the hours to a long weekend. We also have a new poll to determine the latest CLIP OF THE WEEK after we talk a little baseball. Let's get into it...

★★★

The first thing that stuck out to me was the name. Rex. Brothers. That's a pretty badasss name. That's a first-team selection on the MLB all-name team. That's probably the coolest name the Rockies have ever had (Alfredo Amezega? Ryan Hawblitzel? Kit Pellow? Mike DeJean? Josh Outman? Turk Wendell?)*. The name is noteworthy because Brothers was one of those prospects that even casual fans started hearing about before he was called up to the bigs. The name had a ring to it that seemed to give Brothers a bit of a Paul Bunyan mystique. And once he started pitching for the Rockies, he pretty much fit that mold. He had a thick build. He threw smoke from the left side. He was a stud that seemed destined for greatness.

*Wow. The Rockies all-name team is probably deserving of its own post in the future.

Anyway, yes, Brothers's days in Denver are over now after his surprise release on Friday afternoon. He pitched part or all of just five seasons in Denver. Major League relievers often have fickle, fleeting careers. Unfortunately, that of Rex Brothers in Colorado was no different.

Brothers was drafted by the Rockies in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft with the 34th overall pick. He quickly ascended through the minor leagues and made his MLB debut on June 6th, 2011, just 23 months after the Rockies selected him.

His rookie year was impressive and appeared to be the beginning of a promising career. Though he pitched just 40  innings, his 13.1 strikeouts per 9 led the team and his 2.88 FIP was only slightly behind Rafael Betancourt's team-best  2.53. He took over the Rockies' eighth-inning role that year (for the most part) and found success.  He even earned his first save on August 23rd, in his 35th career appearance. The ominous "closer of the future" moniker was probably attached to Brothers while he was still in the minor leagues, but it took effect in earnest during his rookie year.

In 2012, Brothers was solid but not dominant. He logged what have turned out to be career highs in appearances (75), innings pitched (67 ⅔), and batters faced (295).  He struck out 83 (11.0 per 9) and walked 37, while recording an ERA of 3.86 and a FIP of 3.29. Brothers's final 21 appearances in 2012 provided a little foreshadowing for what was to come when he recorded a 1.52 ERA from the end of August through the year's completion.

That foreshadowing came to fruition as Brothers turned the corner in 2013. Simply put, he was one of baseball's best relievers. He worked 67⅓  innings and gave up just 13 earned runs, turning in an unheard-of-in-Colorado 1.74 ERA. One point seven four! He recorded a 3.1 WAR (Baseball Reference).

In fact, Brothers's 2013 is arguably the best season turned in by a Rockies' reliever in the past six years and undoubtedly one of the best in Rockies' history. Here's a look at the best four seasons by a Rox reliever since 2010 (shocking that none of them have come in the last two years!).

YEAR

GAMES

IP

ERA

SO

BB

WHIP

FIP

ERA+

MATT BELISLE

2010

76

92

2.93

91

16

1.087

2.68

158

RAFAEL BETANCOURT

2011

68

62 ⅓

2.89

73

8

0.866

2.53

158

RAFAEL BETANCOURT

2012

60

57 ⅔

2.81

57

12

1.127

3.10

166

REX BROTHERS

2013

72

67 ⅓

1.74

76

36

1.292

3.36

257

Things changed in 2014. Oh, how things changed. I don't know what to say about Brothers' regression or the cause of it, so just look at these stats:

GAMES

IP

ER

ERA

BB

SO

HITS

HR

WHIP

SO/9

BB/9

SO/W

FIP

SV

BS

74

56.1

35

5.59

39

55

65

7

1.846

8.8

6.2

1.41

4.98

0

6

Strikeouts down. Walks up. Hits up. Runs up. Six blown saves. Zero saves. In just one offseason, Rex Brothers went from one of the best relievers in the game to one of the worst pitchers on the Rockies. I went into a little more detail with his 2014 stats, but comparing those to the previous year's in the first table reveals a dramatic swing in performance across the board. That has to be about the most striking turnaround I've ever seen for any Rockies' player.

And we all know what happened next. Brothers started 2015 in AAABQ, was called up in July, and pitched just 10⅓ innings. He only gave up a couple runs, but he walked eight and struck out just five. And that was that. Those 31 outs represent the end of Brothers's career as a Rockie.

I understand why Jeff Bridich cut Brothers. The move was a bit surprising, but I can't necessarily argue with the thought process. It makes "baseball sense."

But from the standpoint of a fan, it's still a bummer to see Rex Brothers go. And not just because of his cool name.

★★★

And now we head to the weekly departments...

(IMPORTANT: Last week I added a new poll for you to vote on your favorite clips throughout the offseason. Sometime before Spring Training rolls around, we'll crown an offseason CLIP OF THE YEAR. So don't forget to vote for your favorite at the bottom of this post.)

Stud of the week:

Another video from the Australian Baseball League!

Ass of the week:

I'm not sure this is going to go over too well. I love the ref's reaction, though!

Dadi Nicolas smacks ref

(GIF Via The Big Lead)

Vine of the week:

So here's the proper way to celebrate a game-winning kick:

Photo of the week:

Hey look at this cat. This cat is doing the Heisman pose. That's not something cats usually do. This cat is not a person! And this cat is definitely not a college football player! Crazy cat.

View post on imgur.com

And a bunch of other stuff from around the internet:

Bryce Harper pronounces "meme" as "may-may." I gotta say, this makes me respect Harper even more.

Just getting in some on-the-job wind sprints. This ref outruns the whole damn play.

Not sure what's going on here, but I always enjoy the latest in high-five/fist-bump skullduggery. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but this sneaky gentleman sure SEEMS to be an American hero.

ESPN cut away JUST IN TIME to avoid seeing this college football fan unleash the largest F-bomb in the history of the world.

Hey this kid proposed on senior day! People like watching stuff like this, right?

Lane Kiffin looks legitimately saddened by this players' butt-slap.

From the local sports scene, we now have definitive proof that Emmanuel Mudiay is a better basketball player than Steph Curry.

One more from the local scene, in which Brockweiler purposely prevents a Broncos' touchdown. I keep it levelheaded and nuanced around here, but it sure seems like Brockweiler is deliberately trying to sabotage the Broncos organization from within. Of course he has a solid first game to gain your trust. You all can keep ignoring the obvious, but I'm going to blow the whistle on this saboteur.

Well said, young man.

And finally, crazy political ads are always fun!

Now go vote in the poll below!

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Thanks for readin'. See ya next week.

***

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos, or other media I should know about. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.