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Scott Oberg’s season ended before it started

The Rockies’ closer had his season ended early due to blood clots for the third time since 2016

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. —, Scott Oberg: — rWAR

Scott Oberg was the Rockies best overall pitcher in 2019 and was poised to take over officially as the Rockies closer in 2020. He had a 2.25 ERA in 2019, and his 2.45 ERA was barely edged out by Adam Ottavino’s 2.43 in 2018. Oberg has been so successful that the Rockies rewarded him with a three-year, $13 million contract in the offseason, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to capitalize on his success in 2020.

Oberg, 30, was placed on the Injured List on July 23 with a lower back strain, but that wasn’t even the biggest blow to his season. On August 2, it was announced that the blood clots that ended his 2019 season had recurred in his pitching arm. This recurrence was the third time in four years that blood clots had ended Oberg’s season.

And once he went down, the Rockies were unfortunately left searching for answers.

The Rockies bullpen posted a combined 6.77 ERA — the second worst in the majors behind the Phillies (7.06). Wade Davis spent most of the year on the injured list and was ineffective in all of his appearances; Carlos Estévez started off well, but struggled down the stretch; and Jairo Díaz was horribly inconsistent for most of the year. Daniel Bard proved to be a good pick up and had success in a late inning role, but he only signed a one-year deal with the Rockies and is now a free agent.

Oberg underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome on September 23 in hopes that it would alleviate the blood clots and allow him to pitch again, but it might be weeks or months before anyone knows if he will. If he is indeed healthy in 2021 (fingers crossed!), Oberg will be a much-needed veteran boost to the Rockies’ young bullpen and hopefully will be able to replicate his outstanding 2018 and 2019 seasons.

In the meantime, hopefully he been able to enjoy the extra time in New Jersey with his family (and Frank the cat).