Rex Brothers went from a dominant major league left-handed reliever to a pitcher just trying to find his way in Triple-A. Let’s take a quick look at Brothers timeline as a major league pitcher with the Rockies.
Over Brothers's first two years, he had a record of 9-4 with an ERA of 3.49. He had an impressive total of 142 strikeouts over just 108.1 innings pitched. The only concern was his high walk rate of 4.7 BB/9, but he seemed to make it work.
In 2013, Brothers took things to the next level and became one of the best left-handed relievers in all of baseball. He pitched 67.1 innings while allowing just 13 runs to give him an ERA of 1.74—the fourth lowest ERA for a relief pitcher in the National League. Brothers also collected 19 saves in 2013, so the Rockies came into spring training in 2014 with the hopes to convert their dominant reliever into their future closer. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned.
Not even close.
Simply put, 2014 was a complete disaster for Brothers. His BB/9 rose from 4.8 to 6.2, while his SO/9 lowered from 10.2 to 8.8. His command was just not there. The lack of command from Brothers lead to an ERA of 5.59 over 56.1 innings pitched. A difference of 3.85 in ERA from the previous year. For a more in-depth look at what exactly went wrong, check out this great article from our very own Carolyn Jelley.
To begin the year, Rex Brothers was demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque to spend time trying to fix the kinks in his performance. As soon as the year started, Brothers struggled right out of the gate, allowing four runs and six walks over his first five innings pitched. It was concerning that even with a demotion to face less experienced hitters, he was still struggling to command the strike zone. Things didn’t get much better as Brothers carried an ERA of 8.25 all the way until May 15th.
The point of this article isn't to dwell on what went wrong; rather, it is to focus on what is now going right for Brothers. Since mid-May, things have been going right for Brothers.
Since May 15th, Brothers has an ERA of 0.96. He has struck out 15 in that span while walking six and allowing just five hits. His ERA for the year dropped from 8.25 to 5.14.
I was able to sit down and talk with Rex when the Isotopes came into Salt Lake City for a four game set against the Angels Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
"I'm just getting right. When my name is called, I want to be ready to contribute and help the team, no matter when or where," Brothers said.
Brothers came on in relief during the sixth inning of the June 8th game in Salt Lake City and threw a dominant 1-2-3 inning. What caught my eye was his velocity. The first two pitches Brothers threw absolutely blew by the hitter at 98 mph. According to FanGraphs, the last time Brothers hit 98 mph was back in 2012.
Brothers has received confidence from LaTroy Hawkins, who was down with the Triple-A team rehabbing while in Salt Lake City.
"LaTroy is always nice to be around. He's a gamer, no doubt. You don't pitch that long in the big leagues without being a gamer. He's a real warrior."
Brothers is ready to be back. What do the Rockies need to see from Brothers before they make the move to call him up? "I'd assume results. But those will come." Brothers said, "Just doing the due process to get to where I need to be."
When asked if he still follows the team, he said "I keep up with the guys. You know, as much as I can. Those are obviously my buddies. I've been with them the last 3 or 4 years."
We all would like to see 2013 Rex Brothers back, and I’m confident that he is on the right track to get back to his dominant form.