Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2022. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 29, Ty Blach: -0.1 rWAR
In the midst of the MLB lockout that occurred last winter, the Rockies made several under-the-radar minor-league pitching acquisitions to help build depth. One of the more intriguing options was the decision to bring in local talent in the form of Ty Blach. When he was looking for a place to sign for the 2023 season, a phone call from manager Bud Black helped put things in motion.
The hope was that Blach would be able to regain some of the stellar form showcased with the San Francisco Giants several years ago and overcome the struggles and Tommy John surgery he had undergone with the Baltimore Orioles.
Initially, the move appeared to be a potential top-tier signing after a strong spring training audition landed him a spot on the Opening Day roster. He then impressed in his first outing of the season on April 10, tossing four scoreless innings to close out a 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Through his first three relief outings, Blach allowed two runs on four hits with strikeouts and two walks. Unfortunately, those outings would be the high point of the season as things would follow a steep decline.
In 13 outings between April 19 and June 10, Blach allowed at least two runs in seven outings, including four outings in which he allowed four runs. He would go on the injured list until the end of June when his time in the big leagues would become sporadic through the rest of the season. He appeared in just seven games with the Rockies from July 1 through the end of the season, primarily pitching to a 4.50 ERA in Triple-A Albuquerque.
There were some great peripherals for Blach during his time with the Rockies this season. Looking past his 5.89 ERA out of the bullpen, Blach posted a more attractive 3.86 FIP and 4.08 xERA in 44 1⁄3 innings of work. He also fits into the mold of the type of pitching the Rockies tend to prefer. He featured a heavy two-pitch mix of a fastball and slider, with a change-up and curveball mixed in, in order to generate ground balls. He was successful in that aspect with a 41.7% groundball rate and allowed just four home runs.
Blach was adept at finding the zone. In his small sample size of work this season, he posted a career-low 5.7% walk rate and managed 29 strikeouts for a 15% strikeout rate. So why did he struggle? The problem may have been that his pitching placement was not ideal and an average fastball velocity of 91 mph allowed opposing batters to make more contact. When he made a mistake, the ball would get smashed around the ballpark, and the Rockies' defensive struggles surely didn’t help early in the season.
There is plenty of promise with Blach sticking with the Rockies in 2023 as he enters his first year of arbitration and wouldn’t command a high salary. He provides a low-risk lefty out of the bullpen and potential starter depth if they choose that route. However, the Rockies may also opt to non-tender him to make room for other players they hope to protect or add in place of a 32-year-old reliever.
Either way, he was able to achieve his childhood dream of playing for the Colorado Rockies in 2022 and prove he is healthy.