Adam Lawler of Pitcher List projects a recovered Scott Oberg to be the Rockies closer next year. They also identify the key indicator in why he was successful in 2019: “Really, it comes down to luck.”
Good fortune came to Oberg in the form of an alarming fly ball ratio at Coors this past season, but no damage came from home runs. A fly ball ratio of 26.7 percent would suggest Oberg was bound to give up some home runs. Pitcher List hits things right on the head describing the luck Oberg saw—we’re talking mere fractions of an inch on the barrel, and fly balls can turn into home runs. He didn’t give up a single home run at home this year.
Bad fortune came to Oberg this past August when a blood clot sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He remains the bright spot in the Rockies bullpen in many respects, and a 1.71 ERA at home this past year cements him as a worthy candidate for the closer job.
Carlos Estevez has an eye-opening analysis in this profile. FanGraphs says his 98 mph average fastball velocity is the fastest in the league. FanGraphs also calculates pitch ‘values’, and simply put, hitters have made Estevez’s fastball the worst reliever fastball in the league (-7.1 wFB). Pitcher List may have said it best: “It’s basically really, really fast BP.
His slider saw more successes (5.1 wSL), but it can sometimes be more of an afterthought when 69 percent of Estevez’s pitches were fastballs (By comparison, Aroldis Chapman threw 59 percent heaters; Chris Sale threw more sliders than fastballs). As we look toward 2020, one might suggest his slider could make his fastball better as a byproduct.
The year-to-year correlation of the FanGraphs pitch valuations (in this case, wFB and wSL) sits below 0.25; hopefully the other 0.75 holds true for Estevez and his fastball can shine more effectively in 2020.
This profile tabs the trio of Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee as mere middle relievers, after their time in Rockies uniforms has been largely underwhelming compared to the noise they initially signed with. The three will make a combined $35.5 million in 2020, and will receive three of the seven highest salaries on the team.
Oberg and Estevez will get paid less than a tenth of that total next year.
With Davis collecting such a hefty paycheck and being known as a once-formidable closer, it is worth reasoning Bud Black may call upon the seasoned veteran as the closer no matter what his time in Colorado has shown. If these Pitcher List projections are actualized come Opening Day, a middle reliever will be making eight times as much money as the closer.
Major League Baseball has a new ‘revised interactive media rights agreement,’ which was approved unanimously by all teams. The new agreement frees up the ability for teams to sell the digital rights to local game broadcasts.
Commissioner Rob Manfred says “The biggest single change was the return of certain in-market digital rights,” and “those rights will return to the clubs.” This may pave the way to free up certain blackout restrictions in the future for those watching strictly through streaming services. Assuming the agreement is pursued to the fullest, this could potentially allow Colorado-based Rockies fans to stream games online, without blackout restrictions imposed due to cable television.
MLB.TV without blackout restrictions would be heavenly. We can hope this is the direction broadcasts are headed towards under the new agreement.
Under prior policy (and in many regards, still the policy today), MLB.TV subscribers have been able to watch all ‘out-of-market’ games. Fine print often got in the way for the ‘in-market’ contests. This meant if you didn’t have cable television, your only options for Rockies games as a Colorado resident were essentially 1. going to each game in person, 2. listening to AM radio every night like the 1940’s, or 3. befriending everybody at a place like the Blake Street Tavern for 162 nights out of the year. As the greater public shifts toward online streaming services over cable subscriptions, this MLB media agreement may be a foreshadowing to incoming blackout restriction adjustments that would make life a lot easier for those viewing through the internet.
162 nights at the Blake Street Tavern remains an option, however.