Welcome to the 2019 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2019. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 34, Chris Rusin (-0.2 rWAR)
Chris Rusin was once the Rockies’ outstanding junkballer. In 2016 and 2017, Rusin pitched 169 1⁄3 innings, mostly in relief and often for multiple innings, for a 3.19 ERA and an adjusted ERA over 50 percent better than league average. He did so with a fastball that averaged around 90 mph that he complemented well with sinkers, cutters, and changeups. Rusin was the guy on the Rockies who opponents just couldn’t hit well, even though it sure looked like they should. If the opener was a thing in 2017, Rusin would have been a great one, as he could give the team 2-3 innings of reliably clean pitching.
The magic fell off in 2018, as opponents started hitting Rusin hard. He posted a 6.09 ERA in 54 2⁄3 innings pitched. The Rockies were left without their reliable long reliever.
Things went considerably worse for Rusin in 2019. Rusin missed most of Spring Training with a back injury, and he was placed on the 10-day IL just before the season began. He returned to the Rockies in late May as part of a set of transactions that included Kyle Freeland’s demotion to Triple-A.
Rusin pitched in just two games for the Rockies in 2019, totalling one inning. He gave up five hits and four runs in those two appearances. The small sample suggests he lost a little bit of velocity, but that’s never what made him good. The likely culprit is that he either lost deception or movement on his pitches. Whatever it was, it resulted in Rusin being DFA’d in early June after his second uninspiring appearance. Rusin cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. He was granted free agency on October 3. It was fun while it lasted, but that may be the end of the line for the 32-year-old lefty.