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.
★ ★ ★
No. 31, Antonio Santos: -0.3 rWAR
No. 30, James Pazos: -0.3 rWAR
It has been well-documented that the Rockies bullpen was a disaster in 2020. Their collective 6.77 staff ERA was second worst only to the Phillies, as was their collective 1.67 WHIP. Through their first 14 games, the Rockies’ bullpen had a 3.26 ERA—seventh best in the majors and fourth best in the NL behind the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Braves. After that, it ballooned to a 7.81 over their final 46 games—worst in the majors (the Phillies ‘pen had a 7.08 ERA in that stretch). Antonio Santos and James Pazos were both part of that bullpen, but at different times and with different outcomes.
Antonio Santos made his MLB debut in 2020. The 24-year-old right-hander was signed by the organization as an international free agent from Villa Gonzalez in the Dominican Republic in 2015. He made his stateside debut with the Boise Hawks in June 2016 and has since moved steadily up the Rockies minor league system. In 2019, Santos pitched for the Hartford Yard Goats and was selected to the Arizona Fall League. He was originally signed as a starting pitcher but was converted to a relief role in the AFL. During his time with the Yard Goats, he posted a 4.93 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in eight starts. In the Fall League, he got his first taste of relief action and struggled initially, before coming into his own towards the end. He ended the season with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings of work.
For the Rockies in 2020, Santos made three appearances, including one start. In that start, though, he only lasted 2⁄3 of an inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in which he allowed six runs on five hits before being relieved by Jeff Hoffman. In total, Santos only pitched six innings and accumulated a 16.50 ERA and 3.00 WHIP. Those aren’t great numbers, but he also didn’t get much of a chance in 2020 to show what he can do, especially after the long break between his conversion to a reliever and actually putting it in practice. It might take him some time to acclimate, but we’ll see where he ends up in 2021.
James Pazos was brought to the Rockies in April 2019 when they traded second baseman Hunter Stovall to the Phillies. He was incredibly effective in 2019, pitching 10 1⁄3 innings and only allowing two runs on seven hits in that span (one was a homer). He walked four batters but struck out 10. 2020 was a different story for the 29-year-old.
Pazos was one of just two left-handed relievers that the Rockies kept on their roster (the other being Phillip Diehl) and only pitched in August. In six appearances, he pitched 5 1⁄3 innings and posted a 16.88 ERA. That ERA was gaudy mostly because he got lit up in his first appearance on August 2 against San Diego—allowing four runs on three hits in just 2⁄3 of an inning. He was fairly effective after that, only allowing three runs in his next four appearances. He got a little blown up in his last appearance as well, in which the Padres tagged him for three runs (two home runs) on four hits in another 2⁄3 of an inning. In total, Pazos’ 2020 pitching line was: 5 1⁄3 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 3 HR, 5 BB, 1 K. He was optioned to the Alternate Site on August 20 and recalled the next day but was optioned again on August 31. He ended 2020 by being designated for assignment on September 28 and ultimately being outrighted to Albuquerque on September 30. Pazos has shown signs of being effective in the past and the Rockies don’t have any lefties in their bullpen right now (in fact, Kyle Freeland is the only LHP on the active roster). He is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2021, so only time will tell where he ends up.