2021 has been a forgettable year for Yency Almonte. He is eligible for salary arbitration next season, but a career-worst 8.37 ERA has shifted his potential payday from what was expected last year.
In 2020, Almonte had the ninth-best bWAR on the entire roster.
Now, he’s at risk of being non-tendered by the Rockies this winter.
A month-long stint on the COVID IL kept Almonte out for almost all of July. He has otherwise toughed it out in the Rockies bullpen for the entire season, pitching every two or three days and fighting to regain any sense of 2020 momentum.
Almonte is out of minor league options, so the Rockies have been forced to either keep him on the big league roster or risk losing him through a DFA.
The Rockies will now watch the right-hander’s performance in the waning days of the 2021 season. With 18 games to play, Almonte could be fighting for his career.
A closer look will show that Coors Field has done him no favors. Almonte is one of the few Rockies that has performed his best on the road this year:
Yency Almonte - Home/Road Splits (2021)
|Home / Away
|Home / Away
Here’s how those numbers have unfolded:
Opponents have posted an 11.3% barrel percentage off Almonte’s fastball in 2021. That number has more than doubled in a year (5.1 in 2020).
When barrel percentage meets fly ball percentage, it can yield a volatile result:
Fly ball percentage is a source of late-inning trouble for many relievers, but especially in the league’s most dangerous run scoring environment. Almonte has allowed 18 extra-base hits this year in the outfield expanse that is Coors Field (25 2⁄3 IP), compared to just one on the road (17 1⁄3 IP).
Almonte has a FIP of 6.07 this year, and his xFIP (a stat with a projected home run rate instead of an actual rate) has him at a 5.29. Both FIP and xFIP are regarded as better predictors for future performance than ERA, which is a welcome sight for Almonte’s current ERA (8.37).
This is not saying Almonte would be an All-Star if he didn’t pitch in Colorado, of course—but we could be looking at a slightly different guy if his home ballpark were pitcher-friendly.
Velocity and Spin
Since his debut in 2017, over 80% of Almonte’s pitches have been fastballs and sliders. He’s throwing them at a near-equal clip in 2021, but the king of all pitching metrics — velocity — has not been on his side:
His drop in average fastball velocity has been marginal from last year (94.8 to 94.1). Mid-90’s is still firm, but a downward trend for a third consecutive year is a noteworthy sight for what could be to come.
Slower pitches will often yield lower spin rates, as Almonte’s fastball will show:
Almonte has seen a slight jump in average slider spin this year, and his pound-for-pound fastball spin (RPM/MPH) is relatively stable as well. This suggests he wasn’t using a foreign substance while he dominated in 2020, which is good. The decline in fastball spin and velocity isn’t great for Coors Field performance, however.
A Cautious Battle?
An under-the-radar note: Imagine your best outings coming on the road where your team is 21-51 and your worst outings coming at home where your team is 45-27.
We can’t assume Almonte’s perspective, but we can imagine it’s a challenge to maintain personal morale in those situations. He’s been largely unable to celebrate his better outings when his team has lost so frequently on the road.
The September Road Map
A challenge in September has got the best of Almonte (12.27 ERA), having to face the tough-hitting Braves and Giants in all three of his appearances this month.
The big league club is able to foster player development in the final games of 2021, as the team has been all but eliminated from the postseason picture. Almonte has some degree of momentum on his side after improving his ERA in the second half of the season, and his collective body of work since mid-July suggests he’s on an upward trend.
The Rockies will be forced to assess how long they will stick with the 27-year-old, however, while Almonte will fight to prove his worth in the 18 games that remain. The Rockies finish their home schedule with the Dodgers and Giants before closing it out with the Nationals.
The road schedule that is left (Nationals and D-Backs) will be far more favorable once the Rockies finish their set in Atlanta this week.
★ ★ ★
The Rockies have matched their longest road winning streak of the season, a timely feat at the beginning of a three-series road trip. Duane DaPron of Rox Pile also highlights the timely performance of pitchers Ashton Goudeau and Lucas Gilbreath over the weekend in Philadelphia.
Three things to watch for the Braves in their upcoming series against the Rockies | Talking Chop (SB Nation, Atlanta Braves)
Know your foe: the Atlanta Braves have won five of their last seven and they continue a nine-game homestand at hitter-friendly Truist Park. The Braves reclaimed the National League lead in team home runs this weekend and are riding some offensive firepower. They have continued to surmount their lead in the NL East.
Atlanta is sticking with fifth starter Touki Toussaint this evening rather than skipping a spot in the rotation with a Monday off day. By keeping Toussaint in the rotation, the Braves are able to preserve their starters with an extra rest day as they anticipate a postseason run.
In his last two combined starts, Toussaint has pitched a total of six innings and allowed five earned runs.
On the farm
- League-wide off day for Low-A, High-A, Double-A
- Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 5, El Paso Chihuahuas 4
The Isotopes walked off the Chihuahuas on Monday night, courtesy of a two-run homer by Joshua Fuentes. He broke an 0-for-9 streak going into the contest and finished the night going 2-for-5.
Ryan Rolison made his longest start of the season, tossing six frames but allowing four earned runs on nine hits. Albuquerque finished the night with scoreless innings from Tate Scioneaux, Chad Smith and Justin Lawrence.
Alan Trejo went yard in the second inning, a two-run blast and his 14th on the year.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!