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. 12, Brent Suter: 0.8 rWAR
Some of the last few Ranking the Rockies articles have discussed additions to Colorado’s bullpen that yielded positive results, such as Matt Koch and Brad Hand. Those new faces did what they could to assist a relief corps that has definitely needed help in recent seasons, and no new face made more of an impression than Brent Suter.
Suter, the longtime Milwaukee Brewer, was at a crossroads when the Brew Crew placed him on waivers following seven seasons of service. The Rockies pounced on the opportunity to add some left-handed, veteran depth to their staff and snatched up Suter on a one-year deal. The “show me” signing allowed him to flex his muscles and prove that, at 33, the southpaw could still be a valuable relief asset while Colorado would get a solid arm on the cheap.
Suter immediately made an impact, allowing just two earned runs through his first 13 appearances with the Rockies. Despite his pure stuff perhaps not being considered elite, he was able to use it well and generate some of the softest contact of any pitcher in MLB over the course of the season.
While not typically called upon for closing duties, Suter was arguably the most reliable arm on Colorado’s entire staff in the early portions of the season.
While the season’s latter months would prove more difficult (especially September, during which he recorded an ERA north of 6), Suter was still one of the more consistently strong relievers for Colorado. Signing with the Rockies and facing the challenge of pitching at altitude is often cause for apprehension for free agent pitchers, but not Suter. He embraced this new environment with confidence from the get-go, as evidenced by a conversation we shared early in the season:
“I pitched in Colorado Springs across three Triple-A seasons, so I knew my stuff, how it was affected by altitude and what I could do about it,” Suter said. “I’ve felt like it was a challenge to be embraced and it’s an environment that, if you can show you can excel here, it really proves a lot.”
To that end, Suter has likely set himself up for another “show me” contract this winter. He elected free agency following season’s end and will probably sign with another club in need of a late-inning lefty, though it’s not fully out of the question that the Rockies would attempt to bring him back.
I, for one, would welcome another campaign with Suter’s involvement, though I wouldn’t blame him if his interests lie more with a playoff-contending team. Regardless of where he lands, 2023 proved that Suter can still contribute at a high level and remains one of the better late-game arms in MLB.