clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

In 2023, Jake Bird was the Colorado Rockies’ Iron Man

The durable reliever was a go-to pitcher for Bud Black.

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.

★ ★ ★

No. 9, Jake Bird: 1.0 rWAR

Every time Jake Bird came out to pitch in 2023 — and reader, there were many, many innings when he came out to pitch — Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” began playing in my mind.

After all, when it came to pitching, Bird was, without a doubt, the Iron Man in the Colorado Rockies bullpen. In 2023, his second season with the Rockies, Bird pitched 84 13 innings, tying him with the Detroit Tigers’ Tyler Holton for the most innings by any MLB reliever.

Bird finished the season with a 4.27 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.354 WHIP, and a 7.9 K/9, giving up six home runs while walking 27. He struck out 77 (with 52 of those Ks coming in the first half of the season and 25 in the second half).

Moreover, his GB% of 52.6% is the kind of thing a Rockies coaching staff gets excited about. Bird’s GB% was the highest on the Rockies pitching staff for any pitcher with more than 25 innings pitched. (Matt Koch was second at 49.2%.) His K% of 20.3% ranked 10th among Rockies pitchers, and his 7.1% BB% was one of the lowest on the staff.

For Bird, it was a year of finding out more about himself as a pitcher.

“I’ve learned actually a lot during the year,” he said. “I would say at the start of the year, it was kind of trying to just out tough it. I’ve always kind of had an arm, luckily, that’s been pretty healthy. So I’ve just kind of kept with my routine and just kind of pushed through it.”

A few months into the season, Bird realized that would not be sustainable.

“Around June I kind of had to admit to myself that, ‘Hey, maybe this isn’t sustainable,’” he said. “Maybe I need to lighten up on my catch playing before the games a little bit. Maybe I need to figure out some other things to manage my body. Over the course of the year, I think it’s really just been having a consistent routine, taking care of my arm, admitting to myself when something’s not feeling right, so I can go take care of it right away.”

Still, for the larger baseball world, it was largely an under-the-radar season for Bird in terms of baseball — except for the Bryce Harper-Mothers Day incident.

Perhaps you remember:

Both Bird and Harper would be ejected from the game.

Bird said of the incident, “I know that competition has always been my release where I just get to be kind of a different guy. It feels good when you throw well, and you get out of a big spot. Sometimes it’s fun to just kind of let it go.”

But that’s in the past. Now, Bird is looking to 2024. During the offseason, he plans to continue working on the consistency of his delivery to advance his command.

“I think it’s good with my breaking stuff,” Bird said. “But with my sinker, the command could be a little better. And in the zone, I would like to be able to pitch in areas I want to a little more, especially throw the glove side more, right. So that will probably be the number one thing.”

Fans learned through a Jack Etkin piece that Bird began teaching himself the piano during the COVID-19 lockdown. It makes sense, then, that he would be a Coldplay fan.

“They are so damn good,” he said back in June.

After the 2023 season he’s had, he’s earned using Black Sabbath for his warm-up music.