In the wake of Jon Gray’s departure to the Texas Rangers, the backend of the Rockies rotation becomes a spot of uncertainty heading into the 2022 season. Most expect youngsters like Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison to battle for the spot, but you can never have too many pitching options. In December, with the freeze on big league free agent signings, the Rockies added to their depth by signing Ty Blach to a minor league deal with the likelihood that he’ll get an opportunity to crack the rotation or slot into the bullpen. However, after a few years of struggles in addition to Tommy John Surgery, is Ty Blach primed for a rebound with his hometown team?
Home Sweet Home
Having the opportunity to pitch in front of your hometown team could go a long way in helping Blach regain confidence at the big league level. The Rockies currently have two local kids on the roster with Kyle Freeland and Lucas Gilbreath both of whom turned in quality 2021 seasons. The organization has quietly been gathering Colorado players like Pokémon, and it could be for good reason. Having prior experience pitching at altitude, whether it be in college or high school, is a unique advantage for guys like Freeland and Gilbreath who have proven they can conquer Coors Field.
Blach has some experience pitching at Coors Field thanks to his time spent with the San Francisco Giants. In a small sample size of 17 1⁄3 innings, Blach has compiled a 6.23 ERA while allowing just three home runs. Add in a 1.442 WHIP and Blach has the potential to be a serviceable pitcher in Colorado that would fit in nicely as a fifth starter or the long reliever in the bullpen. Plus, pitching in front of a hometown crowd could help with the mental aspects of the game, just like it has for Freeland and Gilbreath. But, his makeup is even more intriguing.
The soft tosser
A defining factor for Ty Blach is that he is not going to register many strikeouts. In his big league career, Blach has averaged just 4.9 SO/9 while averaging 10.1 H/9 across 92 games. This isn’t the end of the world, however, as the soft-tossing lefty has complied a groundball rate of 48.7% with the Giants and Orioles. Blach’s usage of fastballs and sinkers will top out around 90 MPH, but he has a knack for control to hit his spots and keep the ball low in the zone. He is reminiscent of the former Rockies like Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook who utilized control and groundballs to be effective and get-outs.
The ability to keep the ball on the ground is best illustrated by the fact that Blach has averaged 0.9 HR/9 in his career. He is less prone to give up home runs, a trait that plays well at Coors Field, and instead would have to focus on limiting the number of hits he would allow, which should be the focus on his attempt to rebound from a rough 2019 and recovery from surgery.
Lessons from 2019 and beyond
Blach pitched in seven games in 2019 between the Giants and the Orioles to uninspiring results. 2019 saw Blach post a 12.00 ERA across 27 innings of work, giving up an alarming 37 runs. The struggles stemmed from a spike in walks, line drives, flyballs, and opponent barrel percentage. His ability to induce soft contact plummeted and he found himself spending most of the year in Triple-A Sacramento for the Giants before being claimed by the Orioles where the trends continued of giving up home runs and flyballs
Perhaps some of these struggles could be traced to injuries. In July of 2020, Blach underwent Tommy John Surgery, missing the 60-game shortened season and rehabbing in the minors during the 2021 season. While pitching for the Orioles’ Florida rookie league team their Low-A East team, Blach seems to be back on track to where he was during his successful years in San Francisco. In 22 innings, Blach compiled a 1.23 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just one walk, and zero home runs allowed. Even more encouraging was the fact that his ability to induce groundballs appears to be back to where he needs it to be successful.
Ty Blach is truly an intriguing option for the Rockies in 2022. He has the makeup of other former Rockies that were successful and he has the veteran experience that could be helpful for a team that is hurting for depth. If Blach doesn’t crack the rotation, he is still a viable option in the bullpen. Either way, it is highly possible that Blach finds a way to rebound in 2022 and become an under-the-radar great deal for the Rockies if he measures up to his potential.
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Garrett Hampson played in a career-high 147 games last season, and this weekend he’s heading back to Reno, Nevada to participate in a fundraising event for his high school as baseball season is right around the corner. Hampson talks about his time there really prepped him for a successful college career and his ultimate journey to the big leagues. It’s always nice to hear players talk about their high school influences, and have the chance to give back to their communities. Be sure to check out the full video interview at the end of the article.
Keith Law’s Top 100 prospects list was recently published, and it featured a pair of Rockies with Zac Veen and Drew Romo getting some attention in the list. Nick Groke came out with an article that breaks down his thoughts on their inclusions, Ryan Rolison who came off the list, and some guys with the potential to make the list in the future. The Rockies have some exciting pieces in the lower end of the farm system, and it would be nice to see more of them crack into more lists.
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