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The art of “bullpenning” might be lost art in Colorado

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, October 24, 2020

On Friday night, Tampa Bay sent Charlie Morton to the mound for Game 3 of the World Series. He allowed five earned runs through 4 1/3 innings; given the damage, it was a relatively lengthy start for the modern postseason era.

As our old friend Adam Ottavino can attest to in New York, even a renowned starter can see an outing shortened with a strong bullpen at their disposal. Morton carried two consecutive All-Star appearances with him going into 2020, so he’s far from just any pitcher. He still managed to step out for the fifth inning after already allowing five runs—and the Rays’ bullpen had the third-lowest regular season ERA this year.

In Wednesday’s Game 2, the Rays and Dodgers combined to throw 12 pitchers. Blake Snell was the only one to throw over two innings.

If MLB competition gradually shifts to heavier bullpen use, the Rockies could surely benefit from an improved reliever ERA. What if they scrapped the traditional norms, however, and elected to pave their own way?

MLB Network’s Brian Kenny wrote a book titled Ahead of the Curve in 2016. Within the text he talks about the benefits of ‘bullpenning’, or the act of disregarding a starting pitcher in favor of more relievers on the mound. The practice essentially replicates how the MLB All-Star Game is played: throw guys out there for one or so innings at a time, all night long.

While many teams implement a bullpen-centric strategy in the postseason, no team has truly jumped in headfirst and done it full-time. If the Rockies did it, it would inject new pitchers and new life into an area the pitching staff needs the most.

Kenny also talks about how Jim Tracy put the 2012 Rockies pitchers on a four-man rotation. Colorado was put on blast for the move across many platforms. Kenny dismisses the critics and suggests it was an optimistic move: at least the Rockies tried something. Although it could have looked like Colorado was waving the white flag, a drastic measure was designed to help in any way possible.

If Colorado were to elect that ‘bullpenning’ strategy, they would be trying something akin to the four-man reliever set of eight years ago. It could easily be foolish to do so after such a tough season for Rockies relievers, but it could also end up being an innovative practice that pushes new forms of understanding into a progressive bullpen landscape.

This would also suggest, however, that many of Colorado’s current starters would need to make a seamless transition into reliever roles. Jeff Hoffman dispelled this prophecy in 2020, and with so many young starting options in the Rockies’ system (i.e. Rolison, Mujica, Lambert), it might be best to give those arms a sense of normalcy again. 2020 was already enough for minor leaguers to deal with; when they already lost their minor league seasons this year, they can’t afford to lose their previous norms, too.

The unfortunate reality for the Rockies: any reliever ERA below 6.77 next season is a step in the right direction. On the fortunate side, it may not require a complete reinvention of the wheel.

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Should fans care about stadium names? l DNVR

After a 21-year partnership, the Pepsi Center will be officially renamed ‘Ball Arena’. Joelle Milholm’s Friday Rockpile discussed a hypothetical renaming of Coors Field; in this link, the DNVR crew discusses the significance of such a name switch for a venue.

Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story was snubbed by not being nominated for the NL Gold Glove Award finalists | RoxPile

The Colorado Rockies had two nominees for NL Gold Glove Awards but it wasn’t the two nominees that most people would have guessed.

RoxPile’s Noah Yingling points out how Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon—not Arenado and Trevor Story—are the Rockies 2020 Gold Glove finalists.

Quick Hits: LeMahieu, Angels, Dombrowski, Pino, Crawford | MLB Trade Rumors

Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors discusses the chance there is a D.J. LeMahieu reunion in Colorado. He cites a Patrick Saunders article from Thursday: “While [LeMahieu is] keeping his options open, he doesn’t see the Rockies as a good fit for him.”

Saunders’ quote was part of an extensive mailbag-style recap:

Rockies Mailbag: Can the Rockies hold onto Trevor Story? | The Denver Post

In addition to LeMahieu, topics include the 2020 World Series matchup, Colorado’s starting pitcher depth in the minors, and even a question from Purple Row’s own Renee Dechert.

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