The Colorado Rockies and a volatile bullpen. It’s a classic combination like peanut butter and jelly. As we saw in Sunday’s game, no out can be guaranteed and no lead is safe. As a group they have the second worst ERA in all of baseball at 5.84 and opponents hit a league high .283 BA off of them. Though the starting rotation has had its own share of inconsistencies, opposing hitters are just watering at the mouth to get to the Rockies bullpen.
Every night it seems some reliever is getting shelled, leaving manager Bud Black with limited dependable guys. The two expected to close down games, Daniel Bard and Mychal Givens, have had their struggles. Combine that with the fact that only two of the thirteen total relievers the Rockies have used this season have an ERA under 4.00 (one of them being the injured Carlos Estévez and the other being a rookie Jordan Sheffield) and you get weekly demoralizing meltdowns like the one we saw Sunday. The bullpen can’t be completely overhauled in the middle of the season, so moving forward, who can be trusted?
That’s not exactly an easy question to answer. Every reliever is more than what their season stats show and are trending in different directions.
As I mentioned above, Daniel Bard and Mychal Givens are the guys who’re supposed to slam the door shut on other teams. So far, it hasn’t been that simple for them. As our own Justin Wick recently wrote, Daniel Bard has had some slider issues that could be throwing off his whole game. This could explain why he isn’t as sharp as he was last year when he was a perfect 6-for-6 on save opportunities compared to the three blown saves he already has this year.
The trust and confidence in him has had to have taken a hit, with his now swollen ERA (6.14) and WHIP (2.05). However, it still seems like it’ll take much more for manager Bud Black to change his closer. Mostly in part because he doesn’t have a lot of options.
Mychal Givens could be an eventual candidate but we just saw how he can break down yesterday. Interestingly enough, every one of the runs Givens has allowed this season has come at Coors Field. In fact, since coming over at the deadline last year, he’s had a 6.28 ERA in 14 1⁄3 innings at home compared to his 3.38 ERA across 10 2⁄3 innings on the road. This suggests he still hasn’t been as comfortable at home as he is on the road so maybe he could be your closer on the road? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Robert Stephenson is another interesting bullpen option who was earning some trust before he got whacked for four runs in 1⁄3 inning by his former team on Thursday. Up to that point, Stephenson and his 3.07 ERA and bullpen lowest 1.16 WHIP, was looking like a solid addition to the bullpen. Notably, Stephenson has gone from primarily throwing a slider last year to throwing an even mix of his fastball with that slider this year. It’s worked out for him so far and he hasn’t had the walk issues that’s plagued his teammates. He’s even seen a near two point bump in his velocity this season. We’ll see if he can shake off those four runs and get back to being a dependable option that this bullpen so desperately needs.
Speaking of desperately needed, Jordan Sheffield’s young career is off to a promising start. Statistically, he’s the Rockies best reliever in just about every category. His 96 mph fastball mixed with his slider and changeup is getting a lot of swing and misses. With everyone else in the pen struggling, you would assume Sheffield’s role would only increase. It’ll be interesting to see how major league hitters adjust as the scouting report on Sheffield thickens.
Who do you trust in this appalling bullpen? Who do you never want to see warming up again? Vent your frustrations down below.
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Spilly definitely brings a unique energy to a Rockies broadcast. Patrick Saunders details Spilborghs’ journey from skinny outfielder at UC Santa Barbara to important glue guy in 2007 to the fun but analytical presence he brings to the booth. Spilborghs is also the co-founder of Future Legends Sports Complex in Windsor, a $130 million, 118-acre sports and entertainment development that’s currently under construction.
Yonathan Daza has been a pleasant development for the Rockies who now find themselves with four capable outfielders (five when Chris Owings returns). He began the year on the bubble with no options but has heated up and become difficult for Bud Black to pull out of the lineup. Rox Pile asks Daza and Black what they think has lead to his success at the plate this year.
Both Kyle Freeland and Brendan Rodgers have made rehab starts for Triple-A Alburquerque. Freeland threw well and will make one more start on Thursday before potentially returning next week. Rodgers has played two games and has been moving well while going 3-for-6 at the plate.
On the farm
The Alburquerque Isotopes lose their sixth consecutive game on Sunday. The team is off to a rough start with a 1-9 record. Brendan Rodgers did not start in this game but did make a pinch-hit appearance when he grounded out in the eighth. Ryan Vilade led the team with a 2-for-4 day that included a double steal when he swiped second base and outfielder Wynton Bernard stole home for the Isotopes only run. By that point, Ian Clarkin had already given up three runs on three hits and reliever Conor Fisk had given up another two runs.
The Hartford Yard Goats finished off their six game series against the Portland Sea Dogs with a close win. First years in the Rockies organization Jameson Hannah and Elehuris Montero both had a 1-for-3 day, and both are still hitting above .300 on the season. The Yard Goats were down 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when they hit back-to-back home runs to put them up 4-2. The first from shortstop Taylor Snyder who hit a two-run bomb to center field, his third of the year. Then catcher Greg Jones launched his own to center field, his first of the year.
The Spokane Indians suffered their fifth defeat in a row on a walk-off in the eleventh inning by the Vancouver Canadians. Chris McMahon made his third start of the year but allowed five runs and ten hits in six innings of work. Michael Toglia went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk but the star of the game was outfielder Brenton Doyle who’s gotten off to a hot start this season and went 3-for-6 with an RBI on Sunday.
The Fresno Grizzlies completed a six-game sweep of the Visalia Rawhide on Sunday. Zac Veen scored two runs on a 1-for-3 day with a double, walk and a stolen base. Catcher Drew Romo also went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Starting pitcher Mike Ruff gave up only two runs in five innings but had nine strikeouts for his third win on the young season.
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