★ ★ ★
No. 13, Lucas Gilbreath: 0.6 rWAR
When left-handed Colorado native Lucas Gilbreath soared during his rookie season last year, expectations were high for 2022. The 2017 draft pick out of the University of Minnesota went straight from A-Advanced Lancaster in 2019 to the big leagues in 2021 after a year of hard work and adjustment in-between. Gilbreath finished the 2021 season with a 3.38 ERA over 42 2⁄3 innings with a rWAR of 0.9 and was one of the brightest spots of an otherwise dismal Colorado Rockies season.
Gilbreath had an excellent showing during the shortened spring training period following the lockout. In six appearances and six complete innings he struck out eight batters and walked none. While he gave up seven hits, he only got dinged for one earned run off a solo home run and clocked out of the spring with a 1.50 ERA. He was a lock for the Opening Day 26-man roster.
Unfortunately Gilbreath started the season on the IL with COVID-19, and would not make his season debut until April 20th. He clearly showed rust after missing most of April. In five outings he only completed four innings and gave up the first of only two home runs he allowed all season. Batters teed off on him with a .421 average and he walked six hitters to just three strikeouts. The Rockies optioned him to Triple-A Albuquerque in a short “get right” assignment on April 27th.
The Rockies recalled Gilbreath on May 8th and he had one bumpy appearance on May 10th. Against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park Gilbreath pitched 2⁄3 of an inning and gave up three earned runs on two hits and two walks. This would be the last bad game Gilbreath would have until August.
Lucas Gilbreath - Standard Pitching 2022
|April 20 - May 10
|May 14 - August 4
|August 5 - August 26
Lucas Gilbreath hit his stride starting on May 14th and was one of the Rockies’ best relievers for the next few months. From May 14th through August 4th he had an ERA/FIP of 1.35/2.31 over 34 appearances and opposing batters were hitting just .198 against him. He gave up just one home run and he struck out almost three batters for every walk he issued.
After August 4th his ERA began to climb. It went from 3.38 on the season to 4.19 by the end of the month. Over that eight game stretch his ERA was 9.53 and he had a 5.59 FIP through 5 2⁄3 innings. Opposing hitters were once again hitting well off of him and he hit two batters.
On August 28th the Rockies placed Gilbreath on the 15-day injured list with a flexor strain in his left (pitching) elbow and he would not pitch again in 2022. The damage didn’t require surgery but he received injections of platelet rich plasma and will need to rehab throughout the offseason.
Lucas Gilbreath had the beginning of his season detailed by COVID and the end of his season derailed by injury. However, those two derailings sandwich a creamy center of excellent bullpen work. If Gilbreath is fully recovered by spring training next season, expect him to be a strong contributor in the bullpen as a veteran reliever with two strong seasons behind him.