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José Ureña earned himself a consistent roster spot in 2022

The former Marlin worked up from Triple-A and stuck in the bigs once he was there

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. 22, José Ureña: 0.3 rWAR

Lacking pitching depth and always looking for some cheap insurance, the Rockies took advantage of the Milwaukee Brewers trimming their roster and designating José Ureña for assignment in March, signing the veteran to a minor league deal. Originally signed as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic, Ureña came up through the Marlins system and was a consistent fixture in their big-league roster from 2015-2020, leading the league twice in hit by pitches (leading to this piece of journalism). After a brief stop in Detroit, he signed with the Brewers to begin the 2022 season but got off to a slow start and was dropped.

After signing with the Rockies, Ureña started five games in Albuquerque with mixed results, then was called up to the big club to start a weeknight game at Dodger Stadium. From there, he was a consistent and somewhat reliable starter for the Rockies. He made 17 starts, not skipping his turn in the rotation once, pitched into the sixth inning 12 times, and allowed three or fewer runs 12 times.

In recent seasons, Ureña relied more and more on his hard, biting sinker, complemented by a slider, change-up, and seldom used four-seam fastball - a profile that would seemingly fit well at Coors Field. Sure enough, he doubled down on that usage with the Rockies, throwing the sinker at least half of the time in 2022.

For the last month of the season, he was arguably the Rockies most valuable pitcher. Ureña put together five-straight starts into the fifth inning or more and allowing two or fewer runs, capped off by a six-inning, one-run performance on the road against the Dodgers in Game 160 where he struck out four and walked one.

José Ureña Splits, 2022

2022 overall 17 5.01 4.65 1.567 5.8 4
2022 with Rockies 17 5.14 4.53 1.567 6 3.8
9/5 on 5 2.25 2.96 1.321 8 2.9
Baseball Reference

His underlying FIP numbers indicate that Ureña had some bad luck, but his ERA+ on the season was his best since 2018 with the Marlins (and third best of his career).

Ureña will be an interesting piece to watch for the Rockies going into this off-season. He showed plus stuff at times during his abbreviated 2022, and while his overall numbers are underwhelming, he profiles as someone with some upside at a low price tag. The latest rumors suggest he could be making a return to Coors, and Purple Row’s Rockies Roundtable discussed it in October.

Even though his traditional numbers (3-8, 5.01 ERA) weren’t anything to write home about, José Ureña was a low-risk pickup for the Rockies who ended up having a positive impact for the rotation. He provided consistency and balance for a Rockies rotation that needed it.