A “Cup of Coffee,” as defined by Baseball Reference: “A short stretch spent in the Major Leagues, supposedly named that because the player has only long enough to drink a cup of coffee before he’s back in the minors.”
Zac Rosscup could be in line for a lot more than just a single cup in 2021. The 33-year-old has dominated Triple-A this year:
Zac Rosscup: Triple-A Albuquerque (2021)
Rosscup has faced two big league hitters in the last 24 months. The journeyman has clawed his way back to the big leagues, and he’s a long way from his 2020 stint with the independent Sugar Land Lightning Sloths. The lefty has surpassed the 20-inning threshold in just one of his seven career big league seasons, and after merely sipping on the aforementioned coffee for so long, Rosscup has been on a constant journey to reestablish his big league status. He’s accepted minor league spring training invites and signed three separate deals with the Rockies in the past 17 months.
He’s back in the bigs—but it wasn’t all his 0.52 ERA in Triple-A that got him there.
Colorado was struck hard with COVID-19 contact tracing last week, as four players and two coaches were unavailable on Friday. Two of those four Rockies players were relief pitchers Yency Almonte and Jhoulys Chacín. After the stifling body of work from the 2021 bullpen and the DFA of Joe Harvey, it was soon time for the Rockies to call up 33-year-old Rosscup as reinforcement.
If not now, then when?
There are eight pitchers in Triple-A Albuquerque that have made 15 appearances or more this year. Harvey is one of them but is no longer in the organization; only three of the remaining seven arms have an ERA below seven (Rosscup, 0.52; Logan Cozart, 4.13; Chad Smith, 2.93). Rosscup is the only one of them with an xFIP below 4.50, and his Triple-A CSW of 33.5% is bested only by arms on the current big league roster (Carlos Estévez, Mychal Givens, Ben Bowden).
Because he has inked a free agent contract, Rosscup can’t be optioned to the minors quite like a few younger arms. The Rockies may have no choice but to keep Rosscup in the big leagues if they are to retain a key piece of the Triple-A safety net that remains.
As is the case for any 162-game season, the stockpile of big league arms can run thin at any time. Jordan Sheffield remains out until at least August. Mychal Givens has just returned following a lower back strain. Colorado currently holds the second-highest reliever ERA in baseball, but that number could drastically improve if Rosscup dominates in Denver like he has in Albuquerque. His continued success could be a key mark of consistency in an area where the Rockies have wavered this year.
Rosscup fits the mold of a big league journeyman in relatively short time. He’s worn five different MLB uniforms in a seven-year career. He’s been traded twice. He’s signed six different free agent deals. He was confined to an alternate site. Rosscup’s recent unknowns have been abounding, but the relative certainty in Albuquerque has done wonders for a seasoned player that has finally worked his way back to the Show. It’s been an impressive journey for a player that has worn three different uniforms in his last 4 1⁄3 innings in the big leagues (Blue Jays, Dodgers, Rockies).
He made a big league return on Saturday; while it wasn’t a great situation, Rosscup was given the chance to regain some MLB comforts in a low-leverage situation. It came with the Rockies trailing 2-7 in the top of the ninth (with two outs, no less).
Rosscup’s first batter of the night give him a harsh welcome: Max Muncy took him deep.
His second and final batter provided some optimism: future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols struck out swinging.
Colorado went quietly into the night last Saturday, but Rosscup has not yet gone quietly back to the minors. Maybe it means he is here to stay this time—and he can finally get a sense of big league comfort after all these years.
Maybe this means we’re in for a reliever rebirth. We’ve seen it already with Daniel Bard.
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The Dodgers could be in need of starting pitching with the loss of Dustin May and Trevor Bauer, and the impending free agency of Jon Gray could prompt a West Coast push for a key rental piece. Our friend Kevin Henry at Rox Pile calms some nerves for us on this one.
On interim GM Bill Schmidt: “The last thing the man who hopes to ascend to the full-time GM job wants to do is to have Colorado viewed as a farm system for the Dodgers, a team the Rockies have been chasing in the National League West ever since they came into existence.”
The Orioles and Rays matchup this evening will feature an all-female broadcasting crew for the first time in televised MLB history. Alanna Rizzo, the former sideline reporter from the Rockies’ days on FSN Rocky Mountain, will cover the game along with Lauren Gardner, a host and reporter for MLB Network. Gardner also worked on the FSN Rocky Mountain crew, starting as an intern and working additionally with Altitude Sports. Rizzo grew up in Colorado Springs and Gardner grew up in Denver.
Rizzo: “It is certainly an honor to be part of [the broadcast], but I think all of us are ready for it to not be a novelty anymore, and for it to be more commonplace.”
On the farm
- League-wide off day for Low-A, High-A, Double-A
- Triple-A: Sugar Land Skeeters 7, Albuquerque Isotopes 5
Albuquerque was held to just four hits on Monday evening, but a late-inning push brought the Isotopes within striking distance of a win. Four runs were scored by Albuquerque in the final two innings, courtesy of a Wynton Bernard single, Rio Ruiz RBI groundout, Ryan Vilade sac fly, and solo homers by Greg Bird and Taylor Motter.
Sugar Land’s Peter Soloman threw a season-high seven innings; his previous high was six innings (scoreless) against Albuquerque on May 29.
Bonus: Stay tuned for some Connor Joe coverage later today, and get your T-shirts ready...
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