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. 29, Joe Harvey (0.0 rWAR)
It was Wednesday, September 18th. The score was 4-4 Rockies in the top of the ninth and the Mets were threatening. One run had already scored in the inning and the Rockies were hoping to keep it close. Bud Black came out of the Rockies dugout and made a call to the bullpen, and in came Joe Harvey. I, an editor at a Rockies blog, said to myself, “Who is this guy?”
Such is the nature of relievers.
The Rockies were quiet at the trade deadline as the reality of a lost season became more and more clear during a six-win July. They weren’t inactive though! They got in on the action by sending 19-year-old lefty Alfredo Garcia from Short Season A-ball to their new favorite trade partners, the New York Yankees, and, in return, they got former 19th round pick Joe Harvey.
Why? The 27-year-old rookie had 11 strikeouts and seven walks in ten innings with the Yankees between April and May. He did have 38 strikeouts in 26 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, albeit with 15 walks. According to Brooks Baseball he has a four-seam fastball that gets “more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers” and a slider that “generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders.”
The other reason has more to do with where he was going than what he’s done. When you’re the 2019 Rockies and you have a bullpen ERA of 5.18 (third worst in baseball) and a strikeout rate of 8.36 K/9, worst in baseball, well it probably doesn’t hurt to add some bullpen arms, especially when you give up so little in return.
Colorado kept Harvey in Triple-A until rosters expanded. In nine appearances for ABQ, he allowed ten runs with ten strikeouts and five walks. Still, the Rockies needed arms and he was up once the Triple-A season ended. Officially he allowed only five runs in his nine appearances with six strikeouts and six walks. But that 5.63 ERA is actually pretty generous compared to his 6.53 DRA (see here).
Harvey came into that September game with the bases loaded and no outs. He then walked Pete Alonso on four pitches to drive in the go-ahead run for the Mets. He got Robinson Canó to hit into a double-play, but a run came across. Then Seth Lugo—the pitcher, mind you—singled to center. It didn’t matter that he got the next batter to line out; he came in with the game tied and Harvey left with a 7-4 Rockies deficit.
And his trade partner, Garcia? He posted a 2.49 ERA with a 4:1 K/BB ratio for New York’s Low-A club. Could be nothing. But it’s possible it won’t be. Such is the tragedy of the 2019 Colorado Rockies.