In 2019, some thought we had reached the peak of number of position players pitching. Not only was Shohei Ohtani becoming the game’s first true two-way superstar in decades, but teams were resorting to their non-pitchers to pitch much more. And it was assumed that 2019 would be the peak since the forthcoming three-batter minimum would save bullpens and allow them to pitch more.
Well, that’s not exactly what happened. 2020 totaled 90 position player appearances, 2021 topped that with 95. 2022 is lagging behind, but is still on pace to total around 80.
These latest appearances have been punctuated by the feel good appearances of legends such as Albert Pujols or Yadier Molina. The Rockies got in on the fun last week (well, if you can call a 14-1 drubbing fun) when they trotted out Randal Grichuk to the mound, preserving the bullpen during a blowout loss to the Marlins in Game 1 of a doubleheader. In no surprise to anyone, Grichuk threw a 1-2-3 ninth, shutting out the Marlins - the team that scored 26 runs against the Rockies on Wednesday alone.
Randal Grichuk pitches a 1-2-3 9th inning pic.twitter.com/8eSZl2Z5eY— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) June 1, 2022
With that appearance, Grichuk became the seventh position player in Rockies history to pitch. And while Grichuk’s appearance was impressive, he was not Brent Mayne. Mayne shutdown the opposition with a scoreless inning to secure a win in 2000, the only such win in Rockies history. Here’s the full list of Rockies position players on the mound.
Rockies position players pitching, all-time
|Brent Mayne||C||August 22, 2000||1.0||1||0||1||0||W|
|Todd Zeile||3B||September 14th, 2002||1.0||1||0||0||1||ND|
|Mark Reynolds||1B||July 15, 2019||1.0||2||2||1||0||ND|
|Ian Desmond||1B||September 2, 2019||1.0||1||0||0||0||ND|
|Drew Butera||C||September 1, 2020||1.0||3||1||0||1||ND|
|Josh Fuentes||3B||April 26, 2021||1.0||1||0||0||0||ND|
|Randal Grichuk||OF||June 1, 2022||1.0||0||0||0||0||ND|
The first cherry picked takeaway from this is that the Rockies non-staff pitching staff has allowed fewer earned runs combined (three, in seven innings) than both future-Hall of Famers Pujols or Molina allowed individually (four, in one inning each). And that’s not even a stat that adjusts for Coors Field. The non-staff staff has put together some decent numbers - a sub-4.00 ERA and WHIP of 1.57, making them comparable in small sample size mop up roles to an average major league staff.
While this list is missing some big name Rockies that never had their chance to regain any former glory on the mound (Todd Helton once led the SEC with a 1.66 ERA over the course of his junior season), it’s far from being complete. The Rockies position players had just two appearances on the mound from the team’s inception until the start of the 2019 season. They’ve had five since, and that trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
★ ★ ★
Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies’ sizzling shortstop prospect, moving close to major-league leap | The Denver Post ($)
For years, the Rockies have had a homegrown shortstop anchoring their infield. First, it was Troy Tulowitzki. Then it was Trevor Story. Could Ezequiel Tovar be next? José Iglesias signed a one-year deal with the team in the offseason and is hitting as well as the Rockies could have hoped (.314 / .363 / .390 triple slash, all above his career averages), but Tovar has been absolutely tearing up the Eastern League to the tune of .317 / .398 / .581. Neither Story nor Tulo spent much time, if any, at Triple-A on their ascension to the majors so if Tovar follows that same pattern he may be closer to playing at Coors than we’d think.
Love it or hate it, The Wave is wooing crowds all over the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field | Colorado Public Radio
If you’ve been to a game at Coors Field lately, you’ve likely been exposed to it. It starts innocently enough but then grows exponentially, gaining momentum and traveling around the stadium. No, it’s not the latest pandemic strain, it’s the wave. The people polled in the article were split into two camps - those involved with the game (Kyle Freeland, Noah Syndergaard, Jenny Canvar) who are against the wave and fans who are for it. For better or worse, the wave is here to stay.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
The ‘topes dropped a tough one to Sugar Land (HOU) Sunday, ceding the winning run in the bottom of the 11th following a dropped third strike passed ball, intentional walk, then single. Seven pitchers appeared for the Isotopes, with all seven but Zach Cosart striking out at least one batter they faced. Sean Bouchard hit a go-ahead two-run home run on the offensive side of the ball, but wasn’t able to be supported too much by other team members. Next up, the Isotopes welcome the El Paso Chihuahuas (SDP) for the first three games of a six game home and home series.
Hartford closed out another winning week Sunday, taking their third straight game against the Fightin Phils (PHI) to secure the series victory. The aforementioned Ezeqiuel Tovar (no. 6 PuRP) had the day off, but the rest of the offense picked up the slack. Isaac Collins, Jimmy Herron, Michael Toglia (no. 7 PuRP), Aaron Schunk (no. 24 PuRP), and Niko Decolati each provided two hits. Brenton Doyle (no. 10 PuRP) added a double of his own and a stolen base, one of four for the Yard Goats on the day. Mitchell Kilkenny (no. 23 PuRP) started the game on the mound, but left after two innings, leaving the game in the capable hands of the bullpen. They combined for seven innings of one run ball, striking out four and walking two as a group. Now, the Yard Goats will travel to Portland to take on the Sea Dogs (BOS).
Joe Rock (no 16 PuRP) delivered a gem in Game 1 of the doubleheader Sunday, throwing a seven-inning complete game shutout, striking out nine, walking two, and allowing just one hit. It was a nice bounce back for Rock, who allowed eight and four runs in his last two starts. Julio Carreras provided enough offense to win the game, hitting a home run in the second inning that proved to be the game winner, but Zac Veen (no. 1 PuRP) added a double, RBI, and a run for good measure. But that wasn’t all for Spokane on the day, as they had to make up a game from earlier in the week.
Spokane swept the doubleheader with another masterful pitching performance, as this time Andrew Quezada threw five innings of three hit, one run ball. The bullpen did not allow a hit and closed the last two innings of the game out. Drew Romo (no. 3 PuRP) was the star offensively, knocking three singles and adding a run scored and three RBI. The Indians will return stateside soon, ready to take on the Eugene Emeralds (SFG) starting tomorrow.
Wrapping up the Rockies affiliate action for Sunday with a battle of current and former affiliates, the Grizzlies allowed three runs in the bottom of the eighth to the Nuts (SEA) and were unable to make it up by the end of the game. Warming Bernabel (no. 18 PuRP) had a hit, walk, and run scored, Juan Brito had two hits and two RBI, and Hunter Goodman (no. 27 PuRP) had a double, walk, and two runs scored, but it was not enough for the Grizzlies. Now, the team will kick off a series against the Visalia Rawhide (OAK).
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!