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It was tough sailing for Connor Seabold and the Rockies

Bounced between reliever and starter, Seabold never found his sea legs in his first year as a Rockie

Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. 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. 53, Connor Seabold: -1.2 rWAR

The story of the Colorado Rockies in 2023 will be underscored by the struggles of the pitching among numerous other things. A lack of depth was a concern coming into the season, leading general manager Bill Schmidt to pick up pitching where he could over the course of the offseason, hoping it would be enough to supplement the staff on hand.

On January 17, 2023, the Rockies claimed right-handed pitcher Connor Seabold off waivers from the Boston Red Sox, working out a trade for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Seabold had struggled in his brief stints with the Red Sox, but now had an opportunity to adjust to a change of scenery and provide depth for a team in desperate need of starting pitching.

Seabold managed to make the Opening Day roster out of spring training despite a 6.17 ERA in 11 23 innings and worked out of the bullpen in the month of April as a long reliever in the middle innings. He allowed four runs over three innings in his first outing but settled into solid single-inning outings the rest of the month. After a brief demotion to Triple-A Albuquerque to stretch his arm out, Seabold returned at the end of April to take his place in the Rockies rotation.

From May 4 to July 15, Seabold made 13 starts for the Rockies. As a starter, he didn’t fare particularly well posting a 1-7 record with a 7.63 ERA over 59 innings but there were glimpses of a potential backend starter in the rotation. In his first three starts in June, Seabold posted a 2.08 ERA across 17 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and five walks. He allowed just four runs across the three starts and looked like he had turned a corner.

Then the Atlanta Braves broke his brain.

If you recall, the Rockies were blown out of the water when they traveled to Atlanta and had their pitching demolished. Seabold’s beatdown came on June 17 when he coughed up nine runs on nine hits, including four home runs, in just three innings. It was an ugly outing for him and over the course of his next four starts, would pitch to an 11.81 ERA in 16 innings giving up six home runs with 11 strikeouts and five walks.

He made a few more relief appearances after that, including a seven-run two-inning appearance on August 7, before he was sent down to Albuquerque for the rest of the Triple-A season. Seabold didn’t fare much better in Albuquerque as his season woes followed him there. In just eight starts with Albuquerque, Seabold had a 7.47 ERA over 31 13 innings with 36 strikeouts to eight walks.

He came back to the Rockies for two more relief appearances at the end of the season with his best outing coming in the final game of the season. After Brent Suter served as the opener, Seabold came in as the bulk starter against the Minnesota Twins at Coors Field and turned in a solid outing. He allowed just two runs on softly hit singles in his first inning before tossing three more shutout innings. He ended up going four innings, having allowed just two runs and wracking up five strikeouts to a single walk.

If you’ll notice, Seabold’s greatest strength is that he pounds the zone and can get strikeouts. In fact, his 6.9% walk rate was the ninth lowest on the team. Even though he doesn’t throw very hard (a common theme for the Rockies) he could learn to be craftier and utilize a gameplan to induce weak contact while continuing to throw strikes. He has been stung by home runs due to his fly-ball nature, something that may need to be addressed if he hopes to be successful.

Seabold’s first season in Colorado was not a pretty one. However, there is still potential for him to be a contributing depth piece heading into 2024. Although the results weren’t pretty in 2023, the glimpses of potential were there. The Rockies should not pencil him in immediately for a job, but in terms of being a depth pitcher to fall back on while they look for better options in the rotation and bullpen, Seabold may find his sea legs yet at altitude.

★ ★ ★

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