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.
★ ★ ★
No 28, Ryan Feltner: 0.0 rWAR
The 2021 season was a breakout campaign for Colorado Rockies’ right-hander Ryan Feltner. A fourth-round selection in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State University, Feltner entered the season having never pitched above the A-ball level and his starting assignment at High-A Spokane represented that. By the end of the year, Feltner had played at each of the three levels above his initial starting spot, including a late-season MLB debut.
This ascent put Feltner on the radar to be one of the key depth pieces for the Rockies rotation in 2022, possibly logging a significant amount of starts based on his performance and the needs of big league team. By the end of the year, that’s exactly how it played out.
He started the season in Triple-A Albuquerque, showing early on he was big league ready. In a very hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, Feltner pitched to an impressive 3.83 ERA in 11 starts with the Isotopes, striking out 60 in 51 ⅔ innings compared to just 18 walks and five home runs allowed.
His early success with Albuquerque earned Feltner a spot start with the Rockies in April before coming back up in May, where made his six straight starts through June. This stretch included his first big league win with a seven inning, one run performance against the Miami Marlins on May 30.
Feltner would head back down to Triple-A through most of July before getting recalled at the end of the month. Thanks to a demotion to the bullpen for Austin Gomber and Antonio Senzatela’s knee injury, he would spend the rest of the season on the big league roster. This is where the bulk of Feltner’s big league season came from as he made 12 starts and tossed just over 60 of his 97 ⅓ innings in the season’s final two months.
There were plenty of bumps in the road in Feltner’s first full season. Over 19 starts, he allowed four runs or more in nine of them and was unable to make it through the fifth inning in eight.
He didn’t show a large talent for missing bats, posting a below league average strikeout rate of 19.6% and CSW% of 26.3%. While these figures weren’t terribly low, they did indicate that Feltner needs to rely on contact for outs. When he struggled, the quality of that contact was to blame as his hard contact (30.4%) and HR/FB (15.4%) rates both registered above league average.
This resulted in an ERA that finished at an unsightly 5.83, but with some misfortune baked-in based on his xERA of 4.91. He did average 94.2 mph on his four-seam fastball, though, and held an impressive 29.5 CSW% on his under-utilized sinker while inducing grounder balls at a league-average rate of 44.2%.
This paints the picture of a successful ground ball pitcher with the occasional ability to miss some bats along the way. This is exactly what Feltner showed in spurts and still projects to be, but had some hard lessons to learn in the majors first.
Moving forward, Feltner has earned the right to be in the 2023 rotation. But there will be greater expectations for him to avoid damage and last longer in games. If he is able to do this consistently, he should have no problem holding onto a rotation spot for a pitching-starved Colorado Rockies roster.