Scott Oberg is a model citizen of persistence and commitment. His presence has been noted, his absence will be felt, and his story has inspired baseball fans everywhere.
Friday’s news was a devastating blow. Oberg underwent another surgery in his ongoing battle with blood clots, and his long road to recovery came to a screeching halt after a tremendous body of work in the Cactus League. If this is indeed the end of Oberg’s career, he can rest assured knowing his work with the Rockies has been “legend stuff” when his team needed it the most.
In the true inspirational spirit he’s given us all: let’s reminisce on some of his finest moments in a Rockies uniform:
April 14, 2015 - at SFG (MLB debut): 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K
On the heels of San Francisco’s third championship in five seasons, Oberg took the mound at Oracle Park (then AT&T) on an April evening, preserving a 3-0 Rockies lead in his MLB debut. He allowed a five-pitch infield single to his first hitter but made quick work of the Giants from there, collecting a pair of groundouts and a strikeout looking. The early-season Rockies had the best record in the National League at the end of the day.
October 4, 2017 - at ARI (NL Wild Card): 2⁄3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Oberg served as immediate relief for Jon Gray in the second inning of the 2017 Wild Card Game, keeping an inherited runner on third base and limiting the damage from some early Arizona fireworks. Oberg punched out Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez to end the second, and his outing set the tone for his postseason heroics to come.
September 27, 2018 - vs PHI: 1 1⁄3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K
The Rockies led the NL West by one game over the Dodgers after this late-season contest. Oberg entered in the fifth to preserve a 3-1 lead with two runners on and two outs.
He struck out Carlos Santana and ended the threat on five pitches. Oberg would then work a three-up, three-down sixth inning with two more K’s.
October 2, 2018 - at CHC (NL Wild Card): 1 1⁄3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K
In what could stand as the greatest outing of Oberg’s career: he entered with two outs in the 12th inning, striking out Kris Bryant before Colorado’s Tony Wolters broke the tie in the top of the 13th.
Oberg returned to the Wrigley Field mound to close out the 13th against the heart of the Cubs’ lineup. He struck out the side.
The Rockies clinched their first trip to the NLDS since 2009.
August 16, 2019 - at MIA: 1 IP (SV), 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Eight shutout innings from Jon Gray progressed into Oberg’s seventh career save by way of a strikeout, a single to left, and two weak ground balls. This outing lowered Oberg’s season ERA to 2.25, the lowest of his five-year career.
His 2019 season ended shortly after this game; he finished the year on the injured list after another blood clot setback. We all lament his absence from big league action since then, but we can feel good about his last game capping off a Rockies shutout.
March 12, 2021 - at SFG (Cactus League): 1 IP, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
As documented best by Thomas Harding: “Oberg felt the adrenaline, then looked at the Giants’ hitters and figured it was not the best time to reflect on his painful journey back to game action.”
Oberg was at least able to see some form of return for his hard-fought recovery in 2021. It wasn’t in the regular season like he may have easily hoped, but his tenacity was no less significant.
2015-2019: The collective body of work
Each of his five MLB seasons were spent in Colorado. He amassed 257 1⁄3 innings with the Rockies, collecting an above-average ERA+ in his final three seasons and a sub-three ERA in his final two.
Rockies success in the past decade can be largely credited to Oberg’s heroism in some big situations — on and off the field. His services will be sorely missed.
★ ★ ★
After allowing three earned runs in one frame on Friday, Jairo Díaz turned around a day later with a scoreless fourth inning. He still allowed two hits, but it was a step in the right direction just days before the regular season.
Germán Márquez made the start in a presumable tune-up for Opening Day. He went three innings, allowing three earned runs and walking two. A standard five day rotation would take him up to Opening Day on Thursday.
Clayton Kershaw will await the Rockies in that Thursday contest, fresh on the heels of a tough Cactus League campaign. He currently holds a spring ERA of 10.22; Dave Roberts is sticking by the first-ballot Hall of Famer as his Opening Day starter, even with other Cy Young recipients to pick from. It will be interesting to monitor Kershaw’s performance in a contract year.
It will be tough for any pitcher in Denver to top the performance of Metro State University’s Cade Crader on Saturday afternoon. Crader went the distance against Colorado State University-Pueblo, collecting 10 strikeouts and sitting down all 27 he faced.
Colorado connections: Crader attended Grandview High School in Aurora, the alma mater of the Rockies’ Greg Bird. His catcher on Saturday was Alex Gonzales, a Rocky Mountain High School graduate (Fort Collins) and the younger brother of the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales.
★ ★ ★
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