As a 24th-round draft pick, Colorado Rockies pitcher Christian Bergman has already accomplished more in his baseball career than just about every other player ever selected in a similar spot. Bergman just finished his third season as a major leaguer, fighting through injuries and role changes to post an 8.39 ERA in 24⅔ innings spanning 15 appearances.
That ERA is bad, but really, it's indicative of his biggest weakness -- and the biggest weakness of most pitchers with a similar pedigree: his stuff just isn't that good. He throws an 89 mph fastball with a little bit of movement and an 86 mph slider that really is just a lower-velocity version of his primary offering. All of that contributes to Bergman being extremely hittable; the 28-year-old right-hander has allowed nearly 12 hits per nine innings in his major league career.
But, dammit, the guy throws strikes, and watching him continuously be unfazed by Coors Field is approaching the stuff of legend. Regardless of the circumstances, Bergman doesn't give in to opposing hitters; if they're going to do their job and barrel up his pitches, so be it.
And that's really the tale of Bergman, who -- by the way -- posted a 3.66 ERA in 51⅔ innings of work in Triple-A, showing his young teammates how to survive (throw strikes!) and even thrive despite having marginal stuff. He's not going to give in, and he's going to give his defense a chance to win games.
That's what makes Bergman a good fit for a swingman/mop-up role going forward. He's probably best left unused in high- or even medium-leverage situations (somehow, Walt Weiss let him face 37 batters -- including some in the ninth inning of a tie game on the road in April -- under those circumstances), but every bullpen needs a guy who can be called upon to move things along and, in best-case scenarios, keep games from getting out of hand. That, of course, comes particularly in handy at Coors Field, where No Lead is Safe™.
In short, the Rockies need some help in middle- and late-innings relief. But they're best suited not to allocate any sort of resources to the seventh and eighth spots in their bullpen. Bergman is a perfectly fine option there, and despite his -0.7 rWAR in 2016, he's earned his place by at least making hitters work for what they get against him. If he stays healthy in 2017 (he landed on the DL in May with a strained oblique), there's no reason why Bergman shouldn't be the last guy out of the Rockies' bullpen -- particularly with fellow (and similar) longman option Jordan Lyles being a non-tender candidate as a result of his performance compared to his projected $3.3 million arbitration salary.