On the heels of a 2020 that ranked him ninth on the Rockies in bWAR, Yency Almonte’s 9.45 ERA is now the worst among qualified Rockies relievers. He hasn’t pitched in five days since allowing three runs to the Dodgers in a 7-5 defeat.
The Rockies needed three innings of relief on Sunday but Almonte watched from afar, seated in the bullpen during the late innings for the third consecutive game. Daniel Bard and Mychal Givens took the late-inning work on Sunday—and had pitched the day before.
In Saturday’s Game 1, Bard and Givens allowed a combined three earned runs in the final two innings. (The Mets won 4-3.) If they were able to immediately rite their poor Saturday showings within hours, is there any meaning behind why Almonte has been forced to wait five days for his?
Thursday 4/15 recap
Here is Almonte’s last taste of the mound:
Max Muncy with the clutch home run! pic.twitter.com/otteMGm4E4— Dodger Yard (@DodgerYard) April 16, 2021
Preserving Almonte’s longevity
The 27-year-old Almonte has pitched in the big leagues since 2018, and his career high in appearances came in 2019 where he toed the rubber in 28 games. Givens, 31, has pitched in 50+ games in four of his six complete seasons, which could certainly explain why Givens would take on a heavier workload. Almonte pitched 24 times during 2020’s 60-game schedule, which was on pace for about 65 outings on a 162-game scale. Givens has pitched 65+ games in three separate years, all while pitching an ERA in the threes.
An extended break in April could be a good thing for Almonte. He didn’t allow a run last year when pitching on three or more days of rest (four times). A few of those mixed in this year could help preserve his arm after the abbreviated 2020, especially with late-inning intensity magnified with fans in the stands again.
Five days to think can do a number on someone eager to hit their stride, however. Almonte now anticipates a Houston lineup that currently ranks 6th in OPS, and a looming off day on Thursday will further regulate his game action. It can be tough to find rhythm as a reliever with such interruptions to a consistent schedule.
(More food for thought: is there any chance Bard is also ‘preserved’ throughout the year after his seven-year big league absence?)
The ‘go-to’ arms: Where does Almonte fit in?
Bud Black has still used Almonte in tight situations this year, as leverage index figures will show. His season pLI is second in the bullpen behind only the closer Bard, and is actually ahead of Givens (briefly a closer in Baltimore). In 2020, Jairo Díaz and Carlos Estévez ranked ahead of Almonte in the bullpen leverage index ranks. Almonte shined in the positions he was placed in last year, and his struggles thus far may suggest he will again be used like he was in 2020.
Sunday’s bullpen management could have been the sign that Black will favor Givens in those tight situations. Perhaps this is to be expected; Givens is making seven times more money than Almonte this year, and there was a reason the Rockies felt the need to bolster their bullpen and keep Givens around amidst budget cuts elsewhere.
Colorado has the second-worst bullpen ERA so far and it will take far more than just Bard, Givens and Almonte to rewrite the entire story. Perhaps Almonte shouldn’t worry just yet, as four of his seven outings this year have been scoreless. He could even remain near the top of the leverage index rankings; his appearances may just be a little more select in the early going when days off are aplenty.
A 26-man roster with a game every day will mean all pitchers will throw in some big moments as long as they remain in a big league uniform. The Rockies only have three days off between now and June 7, so the role of each bullpen arm will be even more imperative until at least Kyle Freeland returns to the starting rotation.
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The Astros were left without five players in their series with the Mariners last weekend due to “health and safety protocols.” Alex Bregman, Yordan Álvarez, Martín Maldonado and Robel García are set to return in time for today’s game with the Rockies, pending further intake testing in Colorado. José Altuve remains on the injured list.
“The Astros haven’t revealed whether any of the players ever tested positive for COVID-19.”
One “snow-out” has already struck the Rockies thus far. Tuesday’s forecast appears to be clear of snow by first pitch, but temperatures in the upper-30’s will continue the cold spell for Rockies home games. A further chance of snow is currently projected for Wednesday—but the weekend series with the Phillies could climb into the 70’s on Sunday.
Hartford Yard Goats individual game tickets going on sale April 26, full capacity expected May 19 | Hartford Courant
Double-A Hartford will open up their initial round of ticket sales next Monday at 10 a.m. EDT, offering tickets to their first 12 home games of the 2021 season. 50 percent seating capacity will be allowed for those games; the Yard Goats anticipate opening up Dunkin Donuts Park to 100 percent capacity (6,000) starting on May 19th.