On August 7th, Tyler Kinley fell apart. Starting a fresh seventh inning with a seven run lead, Kinley was tasked with getting the Rockies three outs closer to an easy victory. One walk, four hits and four runs later, Kinley was pulled from the ballgame without getting through the inning. The Rockies would hold on to win the game 7-4, but Kinley put the team on red alert for the final innings and saw his ERA rise above six for the first time since May.
It was not the first time that Kinley’s name was called and an implosion occurred. In the season to that point, Kinley averaged a 6.20 ERA in his 45 appearances, allowing nearly a hit per-inning and letting over half of all his inherited runners score. Kinley allowed at least one run in 17 of those 45 games and in nine of those 17 he had multiple runs surrendered. Meanwhile, in six of the 28 games that Kinley did not allow a run of his own doing, but did permit at least one inherited runner to score.
That gives us only 22 of 45 games in which Kinley was not involved in a run scoring when he appeared in a game. He was not the only reliever struggling, as evident by the Rockies’ collective bullpen ERA of 5.41 during that period, but he was also not part of the solution, either.
Since then, Kinley has put together the best stretch of appearances in his entire career and looked more like part of the solution.
Tyler Kinley’s 2021 season
|4/1 - 5/11||14 2/3||14||11||12||16||6.75|
|5/15 - 6/17||14 2/3||7||3||4||12||1.84|
|6/19 - 8/7||15 2/3||22||17||4||12||9.77|
|8/11 - Present||14 2/3||7||1||4||19||0.61|
In his last 13 games since that disastrous Saturday August evening at Coors against Miami, Kinley has allowed only one run over 14 ⅔ innings pitched and permitted only one of his five inherited runners to cross home as well. Both of the runs came in a two inning, bullpen-day outing against the Dodgers which saw Kinley appear and depart before the game had even reached its halfway point.
Kinley’s contributions have directly contributed to the Rockies approach back to respectability in the late innings over the past month. After putting up the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball, the Rockies have sat in the middle of the pack since his last blowup. Over 117 innings pitched since August 8th, the Rockies bullpen has the 16th best ERA in baseball at 4.31, and Tyler Kinley’ 0.61 mark is one reason for the improvement.
This is not to say that Kinley hasn’t had good stretches in the past. After a brutal start to the season, Kinley put together a streak from the middle of May to the middle of June, with only three runs surrendered over 14 ⅔ innings. However he did allow over half of his inherited runners to score in that time so there were indications he was not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, that would prove to be the case as his next stretch of games from June 19th to the disaster against the Marlins in August would produce his ugliest totals of the season.
But since that point, Kinley has transformed into a far more productive pitcher. His strikeout rate has been 35% during this stretch, compared to his season average of 20% to that point, and his walk rate is down a tick from 10% to 7.4%. His peripherals don’t point to any specific change at the root of the turnaround as his strike percentage of 67%, swinging-strike percentage of 15% and line drive percentage of 26% are all in line with his season averages to this point, and his hard-hit percentage of 51.6% is a warning sign that luck is playing a part in this.
But right now, Kinley is providing reliability for a bullpen that has desperately searched for it all season. The Rockies will need to drastically improve their reliever corps if they hope to compete in 2022, and right now the team is taking stock on which pitchers on-hand can be part of that group. At the beginning of August, Rockies followers would have balked at the idea of Kinley being one of those pieces. However, if he can continue being more like the pitcher we’ve seen for the past month, maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.
★ ★ ★
Aaron Hurt gives his list on what’s worth watching as the Rockies wind down their 2021 campaign. First, Trevor Story is likely playing his last games in a Colorado uniform. After a remarkable time with the Rockies, Story is set to hit free agency this off-season and is widely considered to sign elsewhere. Also, Hurt points to the historic discrepancy the Rockies could finish with between their home and road records.
Rockies Insider: Drew Romo off to strong start in minors as Colorado’s catcher of the future | The Denver Post ($)
Kyle Newman drops in for his latest Rockies Insider and brings attention to the marvelous first professional season of Fresno catcher Drew Romo. Sporting a .329/.358/.462 slash through 74 games this season, Romo is one of the anchors leading the Fresno Grizzlies into the Low-A playoffs. Newman speaks with Romo to discuss his mindset on improving both offensively and defensively this season.
“I just keep telling myself that I have nothing to lose,” Romo said. “And I remind myself that I’m here for a reason, and I need to keep doing what I’ve done to get myself to this point. It’s my first professional season and considering I didn’t play at all last year (after the draft)…. it’s okay to struggle a little bit and I remind myself of that.”
“A couple of the main things I’ve been really hammering on this season is pitch-calling and game management,” Romo said. “Getting to learn about my pitchers, about the game, about how to handle the staff in certain situations.”
On the farm
Triple-A: Game 1: Albuquerque Isotopes 7, El Paso Chihuahuas 3
The Isotopes took their second straight game from El Paso behind a strong start by Dereck Rodríguez. Rodríguez pitched with a lead into the sixth inning and finished with a final line of 5 1⁄3 innings pitched with six strikeouts, one walk and only one earned run allowed. Tied at two in the sixth inning, Nick Longhi delivered the biggest blow offensively with a three run bomb in the sixth that put Albuquerque up for good. Elehuris Montero had two hits and three runs scored while Taylor Snyder also recorded two knocks, one of them a long ball, to go with his two runs scored and batted in.
The Yard Goats were on the wrong side of a walk-off victory, losing to Somerset for the third game in a row. Peter Lambert showed good signs in his sixth appearance of the season. Lambert tossed 37 pitches over three innings, punching out four Patriots’ hitters while allowing one run on four hits with no walks issued. Trailing 4-1 after seven innings, Hartford put up three runs, two coming on a bases loaded single by Jose Gomez, to tie up the ballgame. The score would stay locked until the two teams traded runs in the eleventh inning. Hartford went scoreless in the twelfth inning, allowing Somerset to score the winning run in the bottom of the frame.
Spokane evened up their road series against Vancouver with a victory on Friday evening. Mitchell Kilkenny was terrific in his start, throwing 7 2⁄3 innings of one run ball with four strikeouts and one walk issued while spreading out seven hits. Brent Doyle had three hits and a run driven in while Javier Guevara collected two hits and two runs batted in. Dugan Darnell pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the season.
Due to a COVID-19 outbreak with the Modesto Nuts organization, the remainder of Fresno’s series has been cancelled to allow for additional testing and contact tracing.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!