Patrick Saunders offers an overview of the retooled Rockies’ bullpen, including newcomers and holdovers. Greg Holland is rightly described as a risky signing that could pay off in a big way, while other recent signee Mike Dunn is, curiously, labeled a contender to close. (If Dunn ends up the team’s closer, something has gone wrong.)
Big questions do remain, but mostly because we’re talking about bullpens. Bullpens and the relievers who populate them are notoriously volatile, but that unpredictability can be mitigated by stacking the committee with more trusted arms. Compared to 2016, the 2017 bullpen would improve simply by being neutral in the clutch. They could be dramatically better without adding anybody. But they did. Holland and Dunn should at least increase the chances for the bullpen to be solid, even though the nature of bullpens guarantees no such thing.
This is kind of a strange article that suggests that the Rockies should treat their situation at altitude as a “pitching laboratory” by implementing something like the 2012 four man rotation, which was a disaster. Of course, part of the reason it was a disaster was because the personnel wasn’t any good, and it was the product of slipshod implementation mid-season. The idea of limiting a starter’s pitches and relying on a series of bullpen arms to win games and manage fatigue could work, as long as those pitchers are good. But, then again, if the Rockies have good pitchers, a five man rotation would also probably work.
Ultimately, author Travis Sawchik concludes that something like a 3-3-3 rotation could be effective—three starters, three middle relievers, and three one-inning relievers. It could, and that’s a strategy worth thinking about. But why should the Rockies take that risk, especially when they have a legitimate chance to contend in 2017?
The Rockies do face structural disadvantages because of where they play their home games; however, I remain convinced that the way to overcome the barriers is to gather talented players and field a strong team.
Paraphrasing what David Laurila asked Jeff Bridich about the idea of playing Ian Desmond at first base: “Really?”
Quoting Laurila after receiving the explanation that an “athletic first baseman” at the bottom of the defensive ladder is a better use of Desmond than taking advantage of his legitimate positional versatility: “I can’t argue with Bridich on the value of having a good defensive first baseman, especially one proficient at reining in errant throws. Even so, a more-versatile role would better optimize Desmond’s value to his new team.”