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A tale of two bullpens

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, May 16, 2022

Remember when the Rockies bullpen was performing as one of the best in the league? I don’t, and they may not either.

Through the first two weeks of the season the back end was lights out - leading the majors with an ERA of 0.68, earning saves in four games, and wins in four. Since then? Well the regression has been steep.

Rockies bullpen, before and since 4/15

Date Range ERA (MLB Rank) FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB%
Date Range ERA (MLB Rank) FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB%
Before April 15 0.68 (1) 2.60 (2) 8.10 (21) 2.03 (1) 0.34 (4) 97.2 (1)
Since April 15 6.23 (30) 4.60 (29) 7.68 (28) 4.98 (30) 0.93 (19) 58.7 (30)

Most of these stats are redundant. If a bullpen strands 97.2% of runners on base, the group is going to have success. If a bullpen strands 58.7% of runners, they’re not. Similarly, a group that walks three more batters a game, on average, is not going to perform as well as their peers.

Punctuated by yesterday’s dual Jhoulys Chacín - Daniel Bard implosion, the Rockies bullpen has not helped their cause as the team has fallen back to .500 on the year. While they haven’t had many leads to work with - Bard’s blown save last night was his first since April 15th, and last nights loss attributed to the bullpen was only their third during that same stretch - they haven’t been able to give the offense a chance to back into the game.

There have been bright spots, still. Namely, Tyler Kinley. After yesterday’s scoreless eighth inning, his ERA and WHIP are down to 0.68 and 1.05, respectively. His value to the 2022 Rockies thus far is summed up by his team-leading seven holds. Alex Colomé is second on the team with three, and no one else has more than two. He recorded a strikeout in every April appearance but one, then May has been the opposite: he’s only recorded one strikeout for the whole month. But that hasn’t stopped him from being a shut down force out of the pen. During the month he’s only allowed two hits and has yet to issue a walk.

The rest of the bullpen has not fared as well, as evidenced by the aggregate stats above. While they don’t need to be as dominant as Kinley to give the Rockies a chance, they surely need to be more Kinley than Albert Pujols if they want a chance to compete the rest of the year.

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Why the Rockies hired Sterling Monfort as one of the majors’ youngest pro scouting directors: “He did it the right way” | The Denver Post ($)

The Rockies had an eventful offseason, with multiple notable changes to their on and off-field lineups. One of the more debated moves of the latter lineup was promoting Sterling Monfort, son of team owner Dick Monfort, to the position of pro scouting director. The Post’s Kyle Newman provides an in-depth piece, covering the younger Monfort’s background and rise through the organization to his new role. “Monfort acts as a conduit between the seasoned scouts he oversees and the Rockies’ front-office decision-makers”, writes Newman, along with including multiple positive quotes from assistant general manager of scouting Danny Montgomery and assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal. For the Rockies, it doesn’t seem like the notion of being a family-run business will end anytime soon. Says Walker Monfort, older brother of Sterling and team VP of corporate partnerships: “(Sterling and I) both intend on being here for a long time.”

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 4, Sugar Land Space Cowboys 3

The Isotopes bounced back again in Sugar Land on Sunday, winning the final game to split the series with the Space Cowboys (HOU). Scott Schebler went 3-4 with two runs scored, including a two-run homer in the first. Ryan Vilade (no. 8 PuRP) also provided some offense, knocking a triple and coming around to score. Starter Zach Neal earned the win on the mound, striking out nine over six innings of work, and then the bullpen trio of Jake Bird, Justin Lawrence, and Chad Smith combined to shut-out Sugar Land for the remainder of the game. Next up, the Isotopes will return home and kick-off a series against the Salt Lake Bees (LAA) starting Tuesday.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 7, Portland Sea Dogs 6

The Yard Goats avoided a late-inning meltdown against the Sea Dogs (BOS) Sunday, taking a seven run lead into the ninth inning then escaping with it barely intact. Brenton Doyle (no. 10 PuRP) led the offense with a flawless day at the plate - four appearances, two walks, a homer, a single, and three runs scored. Despite the continuation of Ezequiel Tovar’s rough week - reaching base zero times in five at bats for the second consecutive game - the Yard Goats put up 10 hits and scored in four separate innings. Aaron Schunk (no. 24 PuRP) and Kyle Datres smacked home runs to lead the offense with Doyle. Former LSU product Nick Bush earned the win on the mound, striking out four over five scoreless inning, then Michael Baird, Riley Pint, and Stephen Jones each added a scoreless inning of relief before the almost collapse. This win gave the Yard Goats the series win against Portland - they’ll continue their season tomorrow when they travel to play the Bowie Baysox (BAL) for a six-game set.

High-A: Hillsboro Hops 3, Spokane Indians 2 (10)

Something had to give for Spokane on Sunday. They made the most of their offensive opportunities - scoring two runs on five hits as a team, helped by stolen bases from Eddy Diaz (no. 30 PuRP), Bladimir Restituyo, and Drew Romo (no. 3 PuRP) - but were unable to overcome the Hops (ARI) nine hits on the day. Romo was the offensive star on the day, knocking in both of the team’s runs as part of a two hit day, while Zac Veen (no. 1 PuRP) went hitless but scored two runs after reaching via a walk and hit by pitch. Romo, Veen, and Grant Lavigne (no. 22 PuRP) all hit in the tenth but were unable to bring Diaz, who started the inning on second, around to score. The Indians will be glad to leave Hillsboro after managing only one win, and will continue their Pacific Northwest road trip tomorrow as they begin a series against the Eugene Emeralds (SFG).

Single-A: Fresno Grizzlies 8, Visalia Rawhide 5

The Grizzlies rounded out Colorado’s minor league affiliates action with a win on Sunday against the Rawhide (ARI). The Grizzlies trailed 1-0 going into the seventh inning, then Hunter Goodman (no. 27 PuRP) knocked a solo shot to tie the game and the team didn’t look back, putting up seven more runs in the final two innings. Goodman finished with three hits and five RBI on the day to pace the offense along with Adael Amador (no. 17 PuRP), who went 2-5 with two runs scored. Braiden Ward continued his strong season, smacking a double and scoring two runs. Next up for the Grizzlies is a matchup at home against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (LAD).

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