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Will the Rockies turn to the bullpen more in 2021?

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The disparity between the Rockies’ starting pitching and the performance of their bullpen was stark in 2020, and really throughout the last several years of Jeff Bridich’s tenure. Acquiring bullpen arms continues to be a big priority for the Rockies’ GM as he demonstrated just a few months ago acquiring Mychal Givens from the Baltimore Orioles. Yesterday, Fangraphs’ Jay Jaffe highlighted the trend, both in the regular season and postseason, that starting pitchers are pitching fewer innings pitched per game started (IP/GS). Under manager Bud Black, the Rockies have maintained a traditional five-man starting rotation. But after seeing the success that other teams are having leaning on their bullpen, might this alter the Rockies’ approach moving forward?

In the shortened 2020 season, the Rockies ranked third in all of baseball with 320 ⅓ innings pitched by starting pitchers, which over 60 starts amounts to an average of 5.33 IP/GS. This was highlighted by solid performances by Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, and Kyle Freeland. However, not all innings were quality innings, as the starting pitching staff accounted for a FIP of 4.88 — ranking 20th in all of baseball. The bullpen, meanwhile, hurled 206 innings with a FIP of 5.56 — third-worst in all of baseball.

How do the Rockies trend?

According to the article, the league’s starting pitchers lasted on average 4.78 IP/GS. The Rockies were +0.53 IP/GS over the average. The table below shows Rockies’ starting pitchers average IP/GS compared to league average over the last four seasons:

Rockies Starting Rotation Innings Pitched per Start

Season MLB (IP/GS) Rockies (IP/GS) Difference FIP
Season MLB (IP/GS) Rockies (IP/GS) Difference FIP
2020 4.78 5.33 0.55 4.78
2019 5.18 5.2 0.02 5.31
2018 5.36 5.75 0.39 4.07
2017 5.51 5.48 -0.03 4.56

In 2018, the Rockies had one of the franchises best season by starting rotation, so it makes sense that they would have more IP/GS compared to the rest of MLB. But even for years where they struggled, the starters were right on par with the rest of MLB. In 2020, however, they had so many struggles in the bullpen, even though the starting pitching was as strong as previous seasons, the starters proved more reliable and were used heavily.

Bridich may have been on track with his focus on building a “super bullpen,” as it has clearly been an effective strategy for some teams, particularly in the postseason. Unfortunately, the performance of his acquisitions generally haven’t worked out and have forced Bud Black’s hand to lean on the more reliable starting rotation. While it’s doubtful Black will turn to using openers or opt for bullpen games anytime soon, it does seem that Bridich is intent on the bullpen becoming a strength for the team.

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The Colorado Rockies history of having the 8th overall draft pick | Roxpile

Following the MLB’s announcement of the 2021 draft order, Noah Yingling of Roxpile chronicles the Rockies’ history of draft selections with the 8th overall pick. They’ve done it three times before and have hit twice and missed once. Do the names Kyle Freeland or Todd Helton sound familiar? (Their other 8th overall pick — RHP Casey Weathers — was traded for DJ LeMahieu.)

Tyler Matzek, former Rockies’ top pick, overcomes yips to shine for Braves’ bullpen | Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post covers Tyler Matzek’s come back to the MLB. Matzek, once a reliever for the Rockies, is now a key contributor to the Atlanta Braves bullpen after dealing with the yips. In last night’s game, the left-hander pitched two innings and earned the win for the Braves — pitching two innings and allowing just one hit, one walk, and one strikeout.

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