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Carlos Estévez had a wild ride in 2020

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He was hit on the hand by a comebacker in mid-August and wasn’t the same after

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2020. 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. 37, Carlos Estévez: -0.7 rWAR

Carlos “Wild Thing” Estévez was a bright spot for the Rockies during an abysmal 2019 season. After spending all of 2018 in the minors, he ranked seventh in the 2019 Ranking the Rockies series and appeared to be on the same path in 2020. Unfortunately, he was hit by a comebacker on his pitching hand on August 16. The X-rays were negative, but Estévez was never the same afterwards.

Prior to the injury, Estévez was sporting a 3.38 ERA in 10 23 innings — fourth best in the Rockies bullpen. His HR/9 rate was 0.84 and his K/BB ratio was 2.67. He also was one of three relievers to allow a home run (alongside Yency Almonte and Phillip DiehlWade Davis allowed two).

After the injury, his ERA ballooned to 10.80 in 13 13 innings — 14th best in the Rockies bullpen. His HR/9 rate went up to 3.38, but his K/BB ratio also went up to 3.17. He allowed a team-worst five home runs.

Estévez’s 7.50 ERA and 2.25 HR/9 were both career worsts, but the 3.00 K/BB ratio was bested only by the 3.58 in 2019. Taking a deeper look into these stats, it’s obvious that he was getting hit harder. Fangraphs shows that his HardHit% was 46.8% in 2020 — up from 38.4% in 2019. Even worse, that’s nearly half the time! He also allowed 11.7% barrels, up from 7.9% in 2019. According to Statcast, it was his fastball that was giving Estévez the most trouble. 11 of the 16 extra base hits he yielded (including all six home runs) came off the fastball. The velocity on the four-seamer was also down to an average of 96.6 MPH (it was 97+ in each of his other three major league seasons).

Like Hoffman, Estévez is out of options in 2021. However, he has had plenty of success in the past so this year could be chalked up to the injury or just bad luck. Either way, 2020 was a down year for “The Wild Thing” but it was a down year for the entire bullpen. Hopefully 2021 will be better all around for everyone.