What would the Rockies bullpen be without the biggest workhorse in the starting rotation?
Germán Márquez was the MLB leader in batters faced this year. The best way to help a bullpen could very well be to keep them in the bullpen, which the Rockies can do with a starter working into the seventh. No Rockies starter has done it better than Márquez in recent years, averaging 6.10 innings per start since 2018.
Márquez’s figure is more than Kyle Freeland (5.50) and Jon Gray (5.64) over the past three years; Antonio Senzatela became an outright starter in 2019 and has averaged 5.35 innings per start since.
The nature of bullpen volatility makes it hard enough to project future relievers, but a 6.77 reliever ERA this year suggests the Rockies bullpen can only get better (fingers heavily crossed). Taking Márquez out of the equation is a surefire way to expect more and receive less in later innings.
When the Astros lost Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, their bullpen ERA jumped from a 3.75 in 2019 to a 4.39 in 2020. It isn’t a perfect correlation, of course (Houston’s bullpen changed a lot), but if the 2020 Rockies added that 0.64 difference to their ERA figure this year, they would have earned the second-worst bullpen ERA of all time. Cole averaged 6.43 innings per start in 2019; Márquez averaged 6.25 in 2020.
The Rockies’ bullpen identity can be shaky, as the all-time closer list can show. Colorado’s top relievers are set to return next year, but we are yet to find out how Yency Almonte, Daniel Bard and Scott Oberg will perform over a 162-game schedule. In 2019, Almonte made 58 appearances over 64 innings between Colorado and Triple-A Albuquerque. He pitched in 24 big league games in 2020, logging 27 2⁄3 frames. Bard rivaled those numbers with 23 games and 24 2⁄3 innings of his own this year, but it was also his first big league work in seven years. Oberg was sidelined for all of 2020 with complications from blood clots, and we are left to hope he can return in uniform for 2021.
All three of them could use some extra days off. Keeping Márquez with the Rockies is thereby imperative.
Márquez’s name has circulated in trade discussions this winter, although not to the extent of Trevor Story or Nolan Arenado. Márquez inked a five-year extension prior to the 2019 season, and a deal for the right-hander’s contract could easily bring a hefty return. His 3.75 ERA this year is overshadowed by a five-inning performance in August in which he allowed 10 earned runs to Houston. Without that outing, his ERA would be a 2.81—and his name could be in even more offseason trade headlines.
Added bullpen confidence, starting rotation consistency, a favorably-structured contract, and just sheer peace of mind for Rockies fans are a few reasons why Márquez shouldn’t go anywhere. The Rockies already won a Márquez trade with Tampa Bay, and perhaps they shouldn’t try with another one.
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Peter Brody of Pinstripe Alley discusses the motives for why the Yankees may elect to part ways with ex-Rockie DJ LeMahieu. “It appears that the front office’s valuation of LeMahieu is more than $25 million short of the reported five year, $100 million contract he seeks.”
Trevor Story can enter free agency in 2021, which puts him in a star-studded free agent class at the shortstop position. Story, Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez are featured in this article, and each are looking at a hefty paycheck in the near future.
“Story is one of the most underappreciated stars in baseball, and it will stay that way until he earns the payday that’s coming to him next winter.”
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ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball schedule was announced on Friday. The schedule features a total of zero Rockies games; the Padres are the most represented team in the NL West with two scheduled appearances.
(The silver lining: give us more of those beautiful Sunday matinees.)
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