Rockies reliever Jason Motte is dealing with a shoulder strain that will likely cause him to miss the start of the season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports on Twitter. That seems to line up lefty Jake McGee to take the closing duties to start the year.
Any significant time missed by Motte would represent a big blow to the Rockies. He signed a two-year, $10MM deal over the winter to provide a stabilizing late-inning presence. And the club’s staff is already dealing with an injury to Jon Gray, which has pushed Christian Bergman from the pen to the rotation.
While McGee is more than capable — preferable, really — in the ninth inning, the overall pen situation obviously will suffer without Motte. Presumably, Justin Miller and Chad Qualls will function as the two late-inning righties.
Then, there’s the question of the long-term effects of fighting through a shoulder injury. Motte was coming off of a somewhat less-than-stellar 2015 — though he did bring his velocity up to a 95 mph average fastball. And he gave up six earned runs in 5 2/3 spring innings — though that was largely due to two well-timed home runs, as Motte struck out four without surrendering a walk.