It’s the ninth inning, the Rockies have a three-run lead, and the heart of the opponent’s order is coming up to bat. Kyle Freeland just pitched eight exceptional innings but surpassed the 100-pitch mark and is out of gas. You have any arm to pick from the bullpen, fresh and ready to close things out—who do you choose?
Like many of you who prefer not to have heart palpitations, I wouldn’t hesitate to call on Adam Ottavino. He has been remarkably lights out with a 2.08 FIP, 29 ERA-, and 13.16 K/9, to name a few of his dominant stats this season. Unlike many of you, Bud Black still maintains he will call on Wade Davis in save situations, but the question remains: why?
In contrast, Wade has an elevated 4.34 FIP, below-average 108 ERA-, and respectable 9.98 K/9, but with a career-worst 12.5 BB% and underwhelming 63.2 LOB%. No matter how you spin it, Davis has just not been as good or reliable as Ottavino.
One final stat I’d like to point out is Win Probability Added (WPA)—a context-rich, cumulative stat explaining how much a player has increased their team’s odds of winning for each at-bat they’re involved in. Over 53.1 IP, Otto has a superb 2.87 wins above average. Wade Davis? -0.06 in 46 IP. Not great for your closer to have a negative WPA. I don’t know about you (or Bud), but I’d prefer our closer to add to the Rockies’ chances of winning a game.
In more news regarding the Rockies’ pitching staff, Chad Bettis will be returning from the DL pretty soon after having been rehabbing with the Albuquerque Isotopes the past couple weeks. Jake Shapiro from Rox Pile suggests Chad might fit better by slotting into the bullpen instead of back into his rotation spot, and he might be onto something.
During Chad’s absence in July, the pitching staff set a franchise record with a 3.16 ERA that month—the starting rotation itself had an incredible 1.71 ERA at home in that time, as well. Like my gran’ papi used to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Conversely, the bullpen can’t seem to find a consistent long-man with the regression of Chris Rusin (6.81 ERA) and uncertainty of rookie Yency Almonte (1.29 ERA, but a .308 BAA and only 3.86 K/9). Chad could act as a reliable veteran presence in that role and be ready to be reinserted into the rotation if Antonio Senzatela falters or another starter gets injured.
Ryan McMahon, in an exclusive conversation, caught up with Rox Pile’s Jake Shapiro and discussed the incredible amount of talent the Rockies currently have stockpiled in Triple-A Albuquerque and how they’re eager to help their club win games. Ryan boasted:
The Topes are pretty good, man. We always joke about that, if MLB needs an expansion team, the Topes would be the first ones up for it. It’s a good team and there are a lot of good dudes down there as well.
Well, you don’t have to convince me. While the Rockies have three catchers on the active roster (one being Tony Wolters and his 40 OPS+) and Pat Valaika (22 OPS+) coming off the bench, the ‘Topes have Brendan Rodgers, David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman, and Garrett Hampson performing at high levels, and the latter did this last night:
Garrett Hampson hit this baseball a very, very long way. pic.twitter.com/Qgfz5ItV3W— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) August 5, 2018
That doesn’t even include 7-time All-Star Matt Holliday. If there was any Triple-A team that could contend in the bigs, the ‘Topes are certainly it. Sadly, all this talent is seemingly going to waste as the Rockies continue to be stubborn with their roster construction and favor veteran players regardless of their current value to this team or ability to help it win games.
Thomas Harding takes a closer look at the recent success of the Rockies young starting rotation and talks to several key members of the rotation and coaching staff who have helped them reach and surpass high expectations following a strong 2017 season. A common thread from the pitchers themselves is how they keep building off of each other’s success and motivate one another.
Freeland says, “Whenever you see a guy go seven or eight innings and really dominate a lineup, you want to go and do the same thing next time you start,” and Tyler Anderson adds, “Sometimes you go off what you see... You see guys dominate, you’re like, ‘Oh, I expect to do the same thing.’” Their confidence is growing, and the positive results are showing. Hopefully they continue to open eyes and dispel myths into September and Rocktober.
On Friday, Andre Ethier—a lifetime Dodger of 12 seasons—called it quits and officially retired from the game of baseball. He ends his career with a WAR of 24.4, a .285/.359/.463 slash line, 162 home runs, 687 RBI, and a wRC+ of 122. Not bad, not bad at all.
From a Rockies fan’s perspective, I remember Ethier being pretty annoying. His stats against Colorado seem to support that, as he owns a strong .281/.375/.465 slash against us with a 127 wRC+. He accumulated about a typical season’s worth of total plate appearances against us (603), and did well for himself in those by smacking 18 home runs, 33 doubles, and four triples for 77 runs and 72 RBI. Hats off to you, Andre, and enjoy the retired life!