When the August 2 MLB Trade Deadline came and went, the Colorado Rockies had traded the expiring contracts of Randal Grichuk, C.J. Cron, Pierce Johnson, and Brad Hand. None of the pieces were particularly valuable, but the team managed to get good enough returns for what they had. However, they chose to hold on to perhaps one of their more valuable bullpen arms in Brent Suter. The reason for this is the simple fact that the Rockies are smitten with Suter and are likely to pursue a reunion for the 2024 season, which begs the question; is a Brent Suter extension worth it?
When the Rockies claimed Suter off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason, it seemed like a natural fit. Typically void of left-handed relievers, the Rockies now had a complimentary proverbial soft-tosser to join a hard-throwing Lucas Gilbreath in the bullpen. The Rockies love themselves a ground ball pitcher and Suter fit the bill while also possessing a strong track record of success in his big league career as both a starter and reliever.
What they got has been better than expected. Entering Tuesday, Suter sported a 2.52 ERA in 53 2⁄3 innings of work with 43 strikeouts and 16 walks. Opponents are also batting just .219/.279/.301 against him with just two home runs while Suter currently has a 1.099 WHIP. The groundball specialist has a rate of 42.9% this season while also reducing the hard-hit rate against him to a career-low 18.9% with an average exit velocity of 81.9 mph.
Suter’s numbers continue to look better as you dive into his split stats. The elephant in the room for any Rockies pitcher is how effective are they at Coors Field. Well, Suter has been fairly productive in his time there with a respectable 3.68 ERA in 22 innings of work. The tendency to use him a little less at Coors this season is exemplified by the fact that teams are batting .315/.371/.371 against him at home. He still has 20 strikeouts at home and just eight walks, but opposing batters are just able to find ways to get hits. Oddly enough, of the 28 hits surrendered at home, only four have gone for extra bases (two doubles, one triple).
Suter has been an apex predator on the mound away from Coors Field. In 31 2⁄3 innings on the road, Suter has given up just six earned runs for a 1.71 ERA. He’s allowed just 15 hits, including two doubles, one triple, and two home runs, and has 23 strikeouts to eight walks. On the road, opponents are batting .140/.203/.243 against him. Home or away, Suter has been extremely effective and efficient. He’s allowed 20 runs in total, evenly split between home and away, with just three more earned runs at home. He’s limiting extra bases, inducing ground balls and double plays, while getting strikeouts.
Let’s not forget that he’s also been tough in his platoon splits. Left-handed batters are hitting .282/.346/.394 against him in 78 plate appearances and the numbers get even better against right-handers. Facing the opposite batter's box, Suter has dominated righties, limiting them to a .184/.241/.248 line in 138 plate appearances. He has just seven strikeouts against lefties and 36 against righties. So, he’s pretty reliable on either side of the batter’s box.
There is more you could dig into, like looking at his individual pitches on Statcast and how effective they have been (which is pretty effective), but there is also the human element. Both Suter and the Rockies have expressed their mutual attraction to sticking together. Suter has been a natural leader in the bullpen along with Daniel Bard. He’s quirky and goofy, which helps keep a team loose. He’s also talked about how much he and his family love the Denver area and the organization. He’s felt comfortable here and that has partly led to the success he has had.
There is a lot to like about Suter and while it could have been better to trade him for a prospect or two, I can understand why the Rockies held on to him. The concerns come from what an extension could look like. Last season we saw the Rockies have the same kind of situation with Daniel Bard. He was one of the best relievers around, destined for free agency. Instead of trading him, the Rockies signed him to a two-year extension, and the 2023 results have not been the best for Bard.
Suter will turn 34 this coming Saturday. He’s on an extremely cheap $3 million deal for this season as he heads toward free agency for the first time. If the Rockies are going to keep him around it has to be for a deal that makes sense.
The team is getting younger, so you don’t want to handcuff yourself with a deal that is too expensive or too long, but still makes him a worthwhile purchase. One deal that makes sense to me is the option amount that was going to be owed to Brad Hand. A one-year deal worth around $7 million seems close to the maximum amount Suter would be worth, but ideally, a $5 million contract would be great. The team could also add some form of an option for 2025, but one guaranteed year sounds more worthwhile for the Rockies.
Suter is getting older and they can’t bank on him being this effective next year. He has the benefit of being a left-handed pitcher which is something the Rockies lack, but they could still find a way to keep him around for one more season at a reasonable price. With a combo of Suter and Gilbreath from the left side, and Justin Bruihl providing depth, the Rockies bullpen can continue to be a strength next season.
What do you think? Is a Brent Suter extension worth it? Sound off in the comments below!
The return of CarGo to Coors Field recently reminded Luke Zahlmann about the importance of CarGo to Rockies history. He presents an argument that I wholeheartedly support that CarGo deserves a jersey retirement. The team also needs to do a much better job at celebrating it’s history as a whole.
I’ll start by saying I don’t agree with all the sentiments expressed in this article. It seems misguided and uninformed in some aspects, but it still points out some important statistics that express how bad the Rockies have been this season.
On the Farm
A seven-run sixth inning was all it took for Albuquerque to take home the victory at home. Wynton Bernard, Coco Montes, Daniel Montano, and Aaron Schunk combined for eight of the Isotopes' 13 hits, with Schunk and Montes driving in four runs total. Jeff Criswell started on the mound and tossed six innings, allowing one run on three hits but did issue five walks along with five strikeouts.
Hartford’s struggles at home continued as they gave up seven runs across the fifth and sixth innings. Joe Rock started on the mound and tossed 90 pitches in 4 1⁄3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with six strikeouts. Alec Barger was tagged for four runs in 2⁄3 of an inning, though only one was earned, on zero hits but did walk three. Offensively, Sterlin Thompson had a pair of hits and drove in two runs.
In total, Spokane pounded out 14 runs on 18 hits. All but one player had at least one hit in the lineup, and seven players had at least two hits. Juan Guerrero collected four hits on the night, and the team as a whole had eight extra-base hits, including Ryan Ritter’s fifth home run of the season. On the mound, Anderson Pilar made the start and allowed one run on four hits, and struck out seven in six innings of work. The bullpen then shut it down the rest of the way.
It was a back-and-forth affair, but it was a four-run bottom of the eighth by Modesto that spelled doom for Fresno. Gabriel Barbosa was tagged for five runs on eight hits in 2 1⁄3 innings. The bullpen was solid aside from a four-run outing by Austin Becker who suffered the loss. Cole Carrigg and Kyle Karros both made their Low-A debuts with Carrigg tallying three hits and Karros registering one.
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!