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Carlos Estévez has earned a new contract as a quality veteran reliever

The longest tenured Rockies pitcher had another strong season bolstered by an amazing second half. He is now a free agent.

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. 9, Carlos Estévez: 1.1 rWAR

Coming into the 2022 season Carlos Estévez was the longest tenured pitcher on the Rockies roster. At the end of the 2022 season Estévez became a free agent for the first time in his career. In the middle he was once again a quality veteran workhorse out of the bullpen for the Colorado Rockies.

Carlos Estévez had a difficult start to the season after the lockout led to a shortened spring training. His velocity on his four seam fastball was down and he didn’t have the easy strikeout stuff Rockies fans are used to. Estévez did not tally single strikeout through his first nine appearances of the season. He was able to keep his ERA down but an elevated FIP showed it was not sustainable. He gave up eight hits in 7 13 innings and issued four walks but managed to keep the ball in the park despite an elevated slugging percentage against him.

The toll came due starting in May, where an outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 6th kicked off a difficult period of time for Estévez. During that outing he lasted just 13 of an inning and gave up three earned runs off of two home runs. Until the All-Star Break, Estévez had an elevated ERA—though his FIP showed the ability to bounce back—and gave up four home runs. He also struggled more with walks but fully regained his ability to strike out batters.

Carlos Estévez - 2022 Pitching

April 9 - May 1 2.45 4.75 9 7.1 8 2 2 4 0 0 .286 .375 .429
May 6 - July 17 6.00 4.65 27 24.0 23 19 16 12 27 4 .250 .340 .446
July 22 - September 23 1.40 3.35 26 25.2 13 6 4 7 27 3 .146 .206 .281
Season 3.47 4.08 62 57.0 44 27 22 23 54 7 .211 .289 .373

After the All-Star break, Estévez clicked fully into quality form and had a quietly fantastic second half. Starting on July 22nd he rattled off four appearances without allowing a run. Then on August 1st he gave up one run only to ease into a streak of 13 more scoreless outings. He kept his walks down while still averaging at least one strikeout per inning pitched. On September 4th against the Cincinnati Reds Estévez had the only game of his entire second half where he gave up multiple runs, allowing two earned runs due to a home run. Thankfully he was able to bounce back immediately and went another six appearances without giving up a run. His final appearance of the season came on September 23rd where he gave up a solo home run.

Estévez ended up being the Rockies’ most turned to reliever in 2022 with 62 total appearances over Daniel Bard’s 57. His 3.47 ERA was the second lowest of any Rockies pitcher. Unfortunately his season was cut short. He was originally placed on the 10-day COVID IL on September 27th but was shifted to the 15-day to end his season with a non-COVID illness.

Carlos Estévez is now a free agent for the first time in his career. While the Rockies will definitely look to keep his services within the organization, it’s possible he looks for a bigger payday elsewhere on a potentially contending team.

For now, at least, Carlos Estévez was once again a reliable veteran workhorse pitcher out of the bullpen. Estévez has now pitched at least 60 times in three of the last four seasons (due to the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign) and has had an ERA lower than 4.00 in two of those three seasons. Any team he pitches for will be lucky to have him, but hopefully that team is the Colorado Rockies in 2023.