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Rockies sign RHPs Chad Kuhl and Alex Colomé to major league deals

The Rockies reinforce their pitching staff with a back-end starter and a potential closer.

The Colorado Rockies have signed more free agents in the last three days than they have in the last three years with several non-splashy major league contracts. In addition to shortstop José Iglesias, the Rockies have also brought in reinforcements to their pitching staff. On Saturday they signed right-handed reliever Alex Colomé, and followed that up on Monday afternoon by signing starting pitcher Chad Kuhl.

Alex Colomé is an interesting addition to the Rockies bullpen and is an immediate favorite for the closing role. Originally from the Tampa Bay Rays, Colomé posted a 1.91 ERA season with an All-Star nod in 2016. He followed that up in 2017 with a league-leading 47 save season. The Rays traded him to the Seattle Mariners in 2018, who in turn traded him to the Chicago White Sox. Colomé had two strong seasons in the South Side. In 2019 he finished the season with 30 saves and an ERA of 2.80, and in the shortened 2020 campaign he flashed an ERA of 0.81 with 12 saves in 21 appearances.

Colomé spent 2021 with the Minnesota Twins and had a down year by his standards with an ERA of 4.15—his first career season with an ERA over 4.00. However, this still places him over both Rockies closer that season:

Alex Colomé compared to Rockies closers in 2021 | BBRef Stathead

Colomé operates with a two pitch mix: a four seam fastball and a cutter. He can throw a changeup and curveball, but hasn’t in several seasons. Colomé had a strikeout percentage of 22.3 in 2021 but is primarily excels at inducing ground ball contact. With a career GB% of 47.4, Colomé had career high GB percentages in both 2020 (53.1) and 2021 (54.1). In combination with a lower velocity and low spin-rate four seam fastball, the Rockies likely think his skills will play well in the dangerous confines of Coors Field.

The Rockies have also signed right-handed starting pitcher Chad Kuhl to a one year deal worth $3 million and performance bonuses. Kuhl was a ninth round pick in the 2013 draft with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and spent the last five seasons on their big league roster working mostly as a back-of-rotation starter.

Kuhl has a career ERA of 4.44 over 100 games and 84 starts. He works a five pitch mix of four seam fastball sitting mid-90s, a slider, changeup, sinker, and curveball. Like Colomé and Rockies ace Germán Márquez, Kuhl’s four seam fastball has a low spin-rate that can play well at Coors Field. Despite the solid fastball, his primary pitch is a slider sitting in the high 80s with solid movement. Per Baseball Savant, Kuhl’s slider averages 32.2 inches in vertical drop with 1.8 inches in horizontal break. Kuhl is also a strong ground ball pitcher, with a GB% of 45.3 in 2021.

With a rotation spot vacated by Jon Gray’s departure to the Texas Rangers, Kuhl will likely compete with Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison for a back-end rotation spot. If he doesn’t earn the starting role the Rockies can also deploy him out of the bullpen.