Don’t look now, but the Rockies may have found a usable, if not reliable, piece in the bullpen. Jordan Lyles struggled in five starts this season to the tune of a 8.55 ERA and 2.05 WHIP. He has done much better since moving into the bullpen, with a 2.91 ERA across 28 appearances. He’s still allowing too many walks (16:10 K/BB ratio in 34 innings) but his mix of pitches tends to be playing up in limited exposure.
There are two big takeaways from Lyles’ turnaround, and neither of them have that much to do with Lyles’ current or future success. The first is that bullpen arms are volatile. The bullpen struggles of the past month are well documented and it’s led to some (not unwarranted) hand wringing among the Rockies faithful, but the fact that the Rockies were able to slide Lyles into a spot where he could impact the game (as he did two nights in a row) shows that good relievers come from anywhere and expensive solutions aren’t necessary.
Which brings me to my next point: this is why the pitching depth across the Rockies farm system is so important. Many Rockies fans are excited—with good reason—to see players like Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Harrison Musgrave, Antonio Senzatela, Yency Almonte, Sam Howard, Parker French, Jack Wynkoop, Ryan Castellani, Peter Lambert, Mike Nikorak, Riley Pint, and Wander Cabrera having success as starters in the minors. But not all of these pitchers are going to make it as starters and it’s easy to forget that they can (and several likely will) serve the team well in the bullpen. In the past, the Rockies have been forced to make every effort to keep any and every starting pitcher with the slightest bit of promise in the rotation as long as possible. But with all of this depth, the Rockies are free to move rotation flame outs like Lyles into the bullpen to see if he can contribute there in hopes that one of the upcoming PuRPs can fill his place as a starter.
Time will tell if “Jordan Lyles: Reliever” is a successful experiment. Even if he isn’t, though, the willingness on the part of the Rockies to move him into that role represents hope for the future of the bullpen and the future of the current PuRPs pitching depth.
This is an interesting exercise (the headline explains it all), and it raises the Rockies quite a bit in the standings. Obviously you can’t port WAR this simply, as context still plays a large role, but that’s not the biggest problem. See, in this reality, the Rockies would still be employing Greg Reynolds (see above point).
In case you missed it, the Rockies “depth” at first base took another hit last night when Gerardo Parra, already playing out of position, stretched a little too far to receive a ball to get Hunter Pence out at first base. He exited the game after the first inning and Stephen Cardullo took his place. Why Cardullo—or someone else who actually has experience playing first base—wasn’t already at the cold corner, instead of a 5’-11” outfielder, is another question entirely.
Kevin Henry over at RoxPile has The Call-Up Story for Pat Valaika, which is always fun, as well as some quotes from Yard Goats broadcaster Dan Lovallo about the shortstop and possible future Rockies utility player.
It seems that Todd Helton will be hanging up his spurs at just one location going forward. The former first baseman put his home in Brighton up for sale and it is a site to behold.
The Play Index is a phenomenal tool (I used it just yesterday!) but there are limits to its greatness. Meg Rowley looks at some of the things we wish the Play Index would track. What do you wish Play Index would track that it currently cannot? (Rockies TOOTBLAN Trigger Warning)