clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MLB Playoffs 2017: 6 Rockies you need to know for the NL Wild Card Game

New, comments

It’s more than MVP candidates on this team

Greetings, internet baseball fan, and welcome to the best part of the MLB calendar: the postseason. The Colorado Rockies are set to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night in the National League Wild Card game, winner goes to the NLDS against the Dodgers.

Surely, by now, you’ve heard of Rockies MVP candidates, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. You may have even heard of wild card game starter, Jon Gray, or cancer survivor, Chad Bettis. If you like trades you probably saw them acquire Pat Neshek and Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline. But there are a few guys scattered throughout the roster you may not know about, or at least not the whole story. We’re happy to provide you with some context.

Chris Rusin, Relief Pitcher

Nobody expected Chris Rusin to turn into some Andrew Miller-lite, but here we are. Picked up off waivers from the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 2014 season, Rusin has become manager Bud Black’s swiss army knife out of the Rockies bullpen, being called into high leverage situations as early as the sixth inning. He was once a high strikeout (11.4 K/9) high walk (3.6 BB/9) reliever but since arriving in Colorado has reduced both of those and this year has an excellent 190 ERA+ and 3.74 K/BB to show for it. He’s thrown more innings in relief (85 IP) than everyone in the league except Yusmiero Petit of the Angels. Oh, and he has a hell of a quick pitch:

Raimel Tapia, Outfielder

Coming into the season Raimel Tapia was one of the Rockies’ top prospects (and our No. 3 PuRP), bound for Triple-A Albuquerque. All he did down there was hit .369/.397/.527 with 12 stolen bases earning several call-ups to the big league roster along the way. He’s also known for his patented two-strike crouch, as well as his proclivity to smell—and talk to—his bat. Mucho swagger, indeed. Look for him to occupy a pinch-runner role in the Postseason.

Trevor Story, shortstop

Last year, Trevor Story exploded on the national radar by hitting six home runs in his first seven games. He set all kinds of rookie home run records until his season ended in early August due to a hand injury (and then Gary Sanchez, Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, and Rhys Hoskins shattered most of those records). If you look at his batting line (.239/.309/.458, 24 home runs, league leading 189 strikeouts) you might conclude that he’s still a swing-and-miss slugger. But did you know his 9 DRS are tied for the most among NL shortstops? It’s not hard to see why:

In fact, you could argue that it was his glove that kept him in the lineup, which has helped the Rockies this September (he hit .272/.303/.573 last month). Just don’t be surprised when he pulls off something amazing on the field this October.

Mark Reynolds, first baseman

Last year Mark Reynolds signed a one year contract and hit a respectable .282/.356/.450 in 118 games. Lacking other offers, he signed a minor league contract with the Rockies and only made the roster when presumptive first baseman Ian Desmond went down with injury. He helped carry the offense in the first half, hitting .284/.379/.513 and earning an All-Star campaign (#WriteInReynolds). He’s since fallen off a bit but he still hit 30 home runs this season, his most since 2011. Oh, and he set off a national debate on the merits of sunflower seeds on the field.

He’ll be making his fourth career postseason appearance for his fourth different team. He played in the first ever Wild Card game (for the Orioles in 2012) and even got to experience Rocktober up close and personal as a member of the 2007 Diamondbacks.

Greg Holland, Closer

Many people were surprised when Greg Holland chose to sign with the Rockies this offseason. A once elite reliever trying to make a Tommy John surgery comeback by taking a job in Coors Field? Unheard of. Fast forward and he has two NL Reliever of the Month awards and leads the National League in saves. To be sure, a player vesting option, which Holland hit when he finished his 30th game back in June, is a strange quirk in a contract. But save for a rough stretch in August, whene Holland blew three saves and two ties, the 31-year-old has helped provide certainty in the back of the bullpen—even if Rockies fans are sweating whenever he enters a game.

Carlos González, RIght Fielder

Of course, most people probably know CarGo, but, considering the year he’s had, he needs to be on this list. He got off to a slow start that turned into a slow first half that turned into calls to bench him that turned into calls to release him. On July 17 he was hitting .214/.297/.335. Since then he has hit .327/.401/.553, bringing back the fondest of memories.

And it’s a good thing he turned it around. Carlos González is the longest tenured Rockie and the only one remaining from the last playoff team in 2009. He signed a seven year, $80 million contract extension in January of 2011 that comes to an end after this season. These could very well be the final games we see from the former All-Star and batting champion. Hopefully we get to see more of these:

★ ★ ★

If you’ve been with the Rockies all year you know these players. But over the course of a 162 game season it’s easy to lose track of the contributions of each man on the roster.

If you’re just checking in on the Rockies, these are the players you may not know but shouldn’t be surprised to find contributing in a big way this October.