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The warning signs of a bullpen burnout (plus Pebble Report)

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, May 22, 2023

After an abysmal April, the Colorado Rockies were mentioned by many in the same breath as the Oakland A’s as the ultimate bottom-feeders of Major League Baseball for the 2023 season. It was a wretched month – the team posted a 7-20 record and negative-62 run differential, after all – but May has been a much stronger showing from the club, bringing the team at least closer to the mean with a 19-25 record before their recent three-game beatdown at the hands of the Texas Rangers.

There are multiple areas of the club that have attributed to this improvement – Ezequiel Tovar put together the best stretch of his season so far to lead the team to a hot start at the beginning of the month before Brenton Doyle took-off for a 343 wRC+ against the Cincinnati Reds to guide Colorado to a series win.

But the biggest contributing factor to the team’s success has been the bullpen, which sits third in all of baseball with a collective 2.3 fWAR. The reliability of this group has been quite evident in May where, before a blowup by newly recalled Matt Carasiti on Sunday against Texas, Colorado ranked second in bullpen ERA (2.82) over 70 ⅓ innings.

The team has relied heavily on the arms of Jake Bird, Brent Suter and Justin Lawrence for this success. Bird has posted a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings while Lawrence sits at a prettier 2.16 ERA over his 25 frames. Suter has blown them both away, however, with his microscopic 0.94 mark in 28 ⅔ innings.

The results are impressive, but the workload is starting to become alarming. Bird’s 31 IP are the most in baseball by a pitcher that has not made a start while Suter sits second on that list and Lawrence has moved into the top-5. This is creating a clear divide from the rest of the staff as the pitcher next-closest to the 20 IP mark is closer Pierce Johnson, who has been deployed predominantly in one-inning save situations.

Rockies Starting Pitching

Stat Rockies League Rank
Stat Rockies League Rank
IP 218 30th
SO/9 6.65 30th
Pit/GS 77 29th
K/BB 1.79 29th
ERA 5.74 28th

The dependency on this trio from manager Bud Black is largely due to the underwhelming performance and injury-riddled starting rotation. The recent series against the Rangers was a prime example of the group’s struggles as only Karl Kauffmann – in his MLB debut – was not only the lone pitcher to reach the fifth inning in a game but the only to give the team 12 outs.

In all, Rockies’ starters rank in the bottom of baseball when it comes to going deep into games. Hard luck has certainly played a factor as elbow injuries to Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela have stripped the club of two of its top starters. But lackluster performances from the able-bodied have been prevalent all year, too.

The bullpen – primarily Bird, Lawrence and Suter – have picked up the slack to this point and kept the team relatively afloat. But the level of dependence on this crop is not sustainable, and if the rest of the staff doesn’t start carrying their share of the load it will only be a matter of time until the dreaded bullpen burnout becomes a reality.

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Rockies select Matt Carasiti, designate Fernando Abad for assignment | Purple Row

In an effort to bolster the bullpen, the Rockies swapped out Fernando Abad in favor of Matt Carasiti. Abad appeared in three games for the Rockies after he was called-up last week, giving up six hits and three runs in 2 23 innings. Carasiti fared worse in his season debut on Sunday, allowing six runs in one inning pitched.

Rockies rookie Brenton Doyle’s immediate impact no surprise to those who saw him rise: “This kid’s got it” | The Denver Post

As a fourth-round selection out of Division-2 Shepard University, Brenton Doyle wasn’t meant to have such high expectations. But the more people saw of him, the clearer it became that he deserved to. Patrick Saunders provides an excellent insight to the Rockies’ center fielder nicknamed “Turbo”.

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Pebble Report: May 15-21, 2023

There was plenty of action this week in the Rockies’ farm system, but arguably nothing topped the return of Ryan Rolison (No. 18 PuRP) to the mound. After battling shoulder issues all last year — ultimately leading to surgery in the fall — the former first-round selection toed the slab for the first time since 2021 for two starts with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies. He was unscathed in his season debut but did get touched-up for four runs in his second stint. In all, Rolison hurled six innings with seven strikeouts recorded in his long-awaited return to game-action.

Top 30 PuRPs

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (3-3, 19-26 overall)

Elehuris Montero delivered another terrific week with the bat, leaving the yard twice and finishing with a 1.245 OPS in 17 AB. Aaron Schunk (HM PuRP) continued his hot-hotting with a .333/.368/.722 line that included two doubles, a triple and a home run. That same extra-base line applied to Nolan Jones, who also drew seven walks in his 20 PA.

The week also marked the return of Gavin Hollowell (HM PuRP) who threw two scoreless innings over two appearances in his season debut.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (2-4, 19-19 overall)

Although the Yard Goats’ pitching rotation largely struggled a Portland (BOS), Chris McMahon (No. 15 PuRP) showed no issues as he held the Sea Dogs scoreless over five innings with five strikeouts. Case Williams (No. 26 PuRP) was also incredibly effective in his start — striking out seven to no walks in five innings — but was let down by his defensive for four unearned runs.

Hunter Goodman (No. 19 PuRP) whacked two more home runs to bring his season total up to 14 while Julio Carreras (No. 24 PuRP) returned to game-action after almost a month on the shelf with a hand injury.

High-A: Spokane Indians (4-2, 20-16 overall)

The Spokane offense had a good time against Everett (SEA), hitting 15 HR in six games. Adael Amador (No. 3 PuRP) swatted four of those bombs, while Jordan Beck (No. 9 PuRP) and Yanquiel Fernandez (No. 12 PuRP) each hit three of their own to go with three doubles, as well. Beck scored a team-high 11 runs and walked seven times while Fernandez led the team in hits and RBI with 12 each.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (3-3, 21-18 overall)

Rolison wasn’t the only story on the mound for the Grizzlies as Jordy Vargas (No. 10 PuRP) twirled a gem against Modesto (SEA). Vargas was only touched for one unearned run over five innings while registering seven strikeouts.

Ryan Ritter (HM PuRP) carried the Grizzlies’ offense in a week that should garner serious CAL League Player of the Week consideration. Ritter posted a healthy 12-for-24 line in six games, tagging three doubles and three home runs to go with seven runs scored and eight driven-in. All told, he finished with a staggering .500/.536/1.000 slash line in 27 PA.

Week of 7/31-8/6 (Hitters)

Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Ezequiel Tovar 1 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zac Veen 2 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Adael Amador 3 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Drew Romo 4 Double-A 3/17 0 3 6 0
Benny Montgomery 5 High-A 3/19 1 3 7 0
Warming Bernabel 7 Double-A 4/19 0 2 4 0
Jordan Beck 9 Double-A 6/18 0 8 1 0
Yanquiel Fernandez 12 Double-A 4/9 0 0 3 0
Michael Toglia 13 MLB 9/28 0 5 7 1
Sterlin Thompson 14 High-A 4/20 0 2 7 3
Dyan Jorge 16 Low-A 3/21 0 1 3 0
Brenton Doyle 17 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Hunter Goodman 19 Double-A 3/12 1 1 4 0
Grant Lavigne 20 Double-A 5/22 1 3 12 0
Julio Carreras 24 Double-A 6/23 0 1 4 1
Ryan Ritter HM High-A 7/19 0 0 10 0
Aaron Schunk HM Triple-A 3/17 0 1 6 0

Week of 9/11-9/17 (Pitchers)

Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Jaden Hill 6 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gabriel Hughes 8 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jordy Vargas 10 Low-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Joe Rock 11 Double-A 1/1 5.0 0/0 1 10
Chris McMahon 15 Double-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ryan Rolison 18 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Sam Weatherly 21 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Victor Juarez 22 High-A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Karl Kauffmann 23 Triple-A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jackson Cox 25 Low-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Case Williams 26 Double-A 1/1 2.2 7/6 3 3
Helcris Olivarez 29 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Carson Palmquist 28 Double-A 1/1 6.0 1/1 2 5
Noah Davis 29 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
McCade Brown 30 TBA (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gavin Hollowell HM MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jeff Criswell HM Triple-A 1/1 5 3/3 3 6
Riley Pint HM Triple-A 2/0 3 0/0 3 5

Season to Date (Hitters)

Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Name PuRP Ranking Level H/AB HR BB SO SB
Ezequiel Tovar 1 MLB N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zac Veen 2 Double-A (IL) 36/172 2 23 43 22
Adael Amador 3 Double-A (IL) 78/255 12 37 32 14
Drew Romo 4 Double-A 83/327 13 29 67 6
Benny Montgomery 5 High-A 110/438 10 52 135 18
Warming Bernabel 7 Double-A 68/302 6 15 68 2
Jordan Beck 9 Double-A 132/487 25 73 142 20
Yanquiel Fernandez 12 Double-A 127/479 25 32 132 1
Michael Toglia 13 Triple-A 79/308 16 53 82 3
Sterlin Thompson 14 Double-A 104/355 14 38 74 17
Dyan Jorge 16 Low-A 56/198 0 13 35 10
Brenton Doyle 17 MLB 15/49 5 8 19 1
Hunter Goodman 19 MLB 83/348 25 41 98 0
Grant Lavigne 20 Double-A 101/445 17 77 142 4
Julio Carreras 24 Double-A 73/311 5 33 81 13
Ryan Ritter HM Double-A 124/441 24 62 152 20
Aaron Schunk HM Triple-A 126/439 14 42 116 12

Season to Date (Pitchers)

Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Name PuRP Ranking Level G/GS IP R/ER BB SO
Jaden Hill 6 High-A (IL) 16/16 43.2 47/46 25 57
Gabriel Hughes 8 Double-A (IL) 14/14 66.2 51/46 26 83
Jordy Vargas 10 Low-A (IL) 13/13 64.0 35/30 24 69
Joe Rock 11 Double-A 19/19 90.0 53/45 32 108
Chris McMahon 15 Double-A (IL) 15/15 67.0 48/44 25 66
Ryan Rolison 18 Triple-A (IL) 4/4 11.0 11/11 6 9
Sam Weatherly 21 High-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Victor Juarez 22 High-A 20/20 91.2 66/65 35 94
Karl Kauffmann 23 Triple-A 18/18 86.1 70/65 38 60
Jackson Cox 25 Low-A (IL) 10/9 31.0 27/25 20 32
Case Williams 26 Double-A 23/23 101.2 87/80 51 79
Helcris Olivarez 29 Triple-A (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Carson Palmquist 28 Double-A 19/19 92.1 44/40 37 134
Noah Davis 29 MLB 14/14 56.0 33/29 33 48
McCade Brown 30 TBA (IL) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gavin Hollowell HM MLB 19/0 23.1 9/9 10 27
Jeff Criswell HM Triple-A 28/25 116 103/100 69 130
Riley Pint HM Triple-A 45/0 55.2 42/38 54 81

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Upcoming Schedule

Triple-A Albuquerque: 5/23-5/28 vs Round Rock (TEX)

Double-A Hartford: 5/23-5/28 @ Altoona (PIT)

High-A Spokane: 5/23-5/28 vs Vancouver (TOR)

Low-A Fresno: 5/23-5/28 vs Stockton (OAK)

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