In Monday’s Rockpile, Daren Gonzalez wrote about where the trust is in the big league bullpen. League comparisons can also frame reliever trust as a sensitive subject—so where can the Rockies turn if trust continues on the trend of the past week?
The minor leagues are back—and perhaps as timely as ever.
There are a handful of arms waiting in the wings, some seeking their long-anticipated debuts and some seeking to cement their veteran status within the big league ranks. All will seek to provide bullpen solace if called upon: here is Colorado’s next in line, along with their year-to-date Triple-A stats:
Joe Harvey was released by the Yankees in 2019 but pitched 10 innings in the Bronx that year, posting a 4.50 ERA. He would then get picked up by Colorado and finish the season with a 5.63 ERA in eight NL innings. Harvey could be one of the more polished Triple-A relievers, further represented through five scoreless frames in Albuquerque.
Harvey, 29, pitched 3 1⁄3 innings for the Rockies last year (also scoreless). With two minor league options left, he may soon find himself in the mix with Lucas Gilbreath and Justin Lawrence between Triple-A and the big league bullpen.
With four years of MLB service under his belt, Zac Rosscup has amassed 83 innings between the Cubs, Blue Jays, Mariners and Dodgers. The Rockies signed Rosscup on a minor league spring invite in 2020 and he spent all of last year at the alternate site, only to elect free agency in November. He signed another minor league deal a month later.
He is also about to turn 33, which would make him the fourth-oldest Rockie (Bard, Chacín, Blackmon). Rosscup would take away big league work from younger players, but even the 2012 Astros (107 losses) had 33-year-old Wandy Rodríguez pitching. Rosscup could also provide instant left-handed help in the bigs after Ben Bowden was placed on the injured list.
Left-hander Jack Wynkoop spent all of three consecutive seasons in Double-A (2017-19). He posted a 4.55 ERA during that time in 54 appearances — all starts — but as a reliever, he holds some of the best figures in Albuquerque.
The 2015 draftee has been used as a long reliever this year, averaging over three innings per appearance. As a 27-year-old that has yet to make his MLB debut, perhaps the long relief route is Wynkoop’s most likely path to the bigs while pitchers like Ryan Rolison anticipate some big league starts.
Wynkoop’s Triple-A CSW is 26.2 this year, beneath the MLB average of 26.9. This is an interesting figure to monitor, on top of the discrepancy between his ERA and xFIP. If he continues to keep runs off the scoreboard, however, it will be tough to dismiss his success.
Jesús Tinoco has less than a year of MLB service to his name but has collected 44 2⁄3 innings of big league work. Lest we forget: his minor league preparation was confined to the alternate site last year. Perhaps a return to minor league normalcy will do Tinoco well, having been used to it since 2012 at the age of 17.
It may take a large impression for the Rockies to call him up, being that he also doesn’t have options remaining. Tinoco did post a 1.04 ERA in the bigs last year (8 2⁄3 IP between Miami/Colorado), so maybe that impression isn’t too far away.
With five walks in 4 2⁄3 innings, Logan Cozart has not exactly been a refined product this year. Maybe it is just a matter of time until Cozart’s ERA/FIP split returns back to earth and his command is reaffirmed through a greater workload. (Adrenaline is finally in the system of minor leaguers again.)
Cozart, 28, has made 216 minor league appearances dating back to 2015. The right-hander has persevered through six seasons of pro ball after being drafted as a 21st rounder, notably capped by his body of work in Double-A (100 2⁄3 IP, 2.06 ERA).
Jairo Díaz has a career 4.86 ERA in the big leagues. He is pitching worse in Triple-A this year, but if the Rockies elect to cycle in another arm, Díaz comes equipped with big league familiarity. He has amassed over three years of MLB service but ranked just ahead of Wade Davis in the 2020 Ranking the Rockies series. He may be far removed from his 2015 campaign where he posted a 2.37 ERA, but perhaps there is some ceiling left in the 29-year-old.
Other Triple-A relievers (with 2021 stats):
- Chris Rusin, 34 (5 IP, 16.20 ERA)
- Heath Holder, 28 (5 1/3 IP, 16.88 ERA)
- Chad Smith, 25 (4 IP, 6.75 ERA)
- Conor Fisk, 29 (1 1⁄3 IP, 13.50 ERA)
★ ★ ★
Padres beat writer Kevin Acee details how several Padres from Triple-A have filled the void with a handful of big leaguers on the injured list. Acee further discusses the capacity in which Dinelson Lamet will be used through May; the righty finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting last year but has yet to throw more than two innings in an outing this year. Lamet was slowed by an elbow injury through the spring but appears to be on a gradual return to action.
In case you missed it: Josh Fuentes was named NL Player of the Week! He held a .909 slugging percentage in five games last week; his week-long performance was further detailed by Renee Dechert on Monday.
On the farm
The weekly off day for Low-A through Double-A was again upon us, as only one Rockies affiliate took the field on Monday:
- Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 3, El Paso Chihuahuas 9
- Double-A: Off (Hartford Yard Goats)
- High-A: Off (Spokane Indians)
- Low-A: Off (Fresno Grizzlies)
Jose Mujica took the hill for Albuquerque and did not fare well. The right-hander allowed seven runs and failed to complete four innings; that was all the offense El Paso would need as the Isotopes plated only three runs. Albuquerque production was highlighted by shortstop Brendan Rodgers going 2-for-4. He is currently slashing .455/.455/.545 in 11 Triple-A at-bats.
★ ★ ★
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