We’ve all read what feels like a million articles on the fallout of the “Great Bullpen Payout” after the 2017 season when Jeff Bridich dished out $106 million to Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw. More painfully, we’ve watched the trio struggle ever since. To say the three haven’t lived up to their contacts, $54 million for Davis and $27 million apiece for McGee and Shaw, would be quite the understatement.
This article has a new twist. Whether we agree with it or not, Bud Black has stated that Davis is starting the season as the closer, despite the brilliant job Scott Oberg did in the role in 2019. But what if Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee don’t make the bullpen roster?
Nick Groke points out that an expanded roster would likely give the Rockies 10 relievers and five starters. Some relievers are for sure like Oberg, Jairo Díaz, and Carlos Estévez. Black has repeatedly said Davis “is going to bounce back.” That’s four. Former Marlin Tyler Kinley is looking sharp and the comeback story of former Red Sox Daniel Bard is looking more like a reality. Yency Almonte can’t be sent anymore because he’s out of options. That’s seven and they are all righties, so the Rockies will need lefties like Phillip Diehl and James Pazos, and maybe even Tim Collins. Those are the 10 guys Groke figures could make up the bullpen.
If we assume Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, Germán Márquez, and Antonio Senzatela are the first four starters, then the battle for number five is between Chi Chi González and Jeff Hoffman, with an outside chance of Peter Lambert if he can shine and show he’s fully recovered from his forearm injury suffered early in spring training. So Groke’s 10 isn’t even counting the two, or at least one if Lambert needs more time, who when they don’t get the fifth starting spot would likely be moved to the bullpen. Don’t forget current 40-man roster pitchers Jesus Tinoco and José Mujica.
In other words, it’s going to be a battle to see who makes the cut for the bullpen’s active roster.
While Davis, McGee, and Shaw all signed three-year contracts that are up after 2020, they also have incentives that could give McGee and Shaw $9 million 2021 deals with the Rockies and Davis $15 million for next season. If they don’t, “the Rockies can buy them out for $2 million.” With 37 percent pro-rated figures, Groke calculates that Shaw just needs to pitch in 15 games this season to earn the extension, McGee needs to appear in 24, and Davis just needs 11.
As long as he stays healthy, Davis seems likely to hit his number. But for Shaw and McGee? It will be interesting to see how this season plays out and how that then affects 2021.
According to Kyle Newman, everyone in the original spring training and the Coors Field 2.0 version of spring training is stoked about Ryan Rolison. The 23-year-old lefty threw two scoreless innings in an intrasquad game on Saturday, July 11. While there is a “remote possibility” that the 2018 draft pick could make the jump from Class-A to the Show this season with skipping everything in between, his MLB arrival would also mean injuries or a lot of losing has befallen the 2020 Rockies. Newman also points out that starter Ryan Castellani, a righty, and reliever Ben Bowden, a lefty, are much more likely to make their debuts first.
Newman also included status updates on Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and Scott Oberg. Blackmon, who was procedurally placed on the 10-day injured list on July 14, which makes him available for Opening Day if Bud Black thinks he’s ready.
Dahl is expected to play in Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage after missing the last two because of “core soreness.” Dahl hit the cage on Wednesday and was able to take batting practice Thursday. Oberg threw some bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Thursday after slowly easing into training after experiencing tightness on his flight to Denver.
With the Summer Camp season officially starting one week from today, Kevin Henry put forth his prediction for the starting lineup. The projection assumes Charlie Blackmon won’t be ready on day one. The lineup is also left-hander heavy in order to attempt to better hit Texas Ranger right-handed starter Lance Lynn.
1. Garrett Hampson, 2B
2. David Dahl, CF
3. Trevor Story, SS
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
5. Daniel Murphy, DH
6. Ryan McMahon, 1B
7. Sam Hilliard, RF
8. Raimel Tapia, LF
9. Tony Wolters, C
I like this lineup, but would rather have Blackmon if he’s ready instead of Hilliard. I would put Blackmon in the three hole, move Story to batting fifth, and then just bump everyone else down. Blackmon could also replace Murphy at DH. (I am looking forward to seeing what Murphy and Kemp can do at DH.) I am still excited to see lots of Hilliard and Tapia rolling through the outfield rotation, but I’ll always defer to the four-time All-Star. If you were Bud Black, what would your lineup be?