Just last year, the Rockies’ bullpen ranked in baseball’s bottom third, coming in 21st in baseball with a 2.2 fWAR. So far this year, their relievers are the best in the game using that same metric, with a 1.4 fWAR and a 2.80 ERA that’s remarkable considering the context in which they pitch. The Denver Post’s Nick Groke explains the bullpen’s transformation, beginning with the signings of Greg Holland and Mike Dunn last winter. “Greg Holland and Mike Dunn have been fabulous for the mentality of the bullpen,” says manager Bud Black. “They have made a marked difference with the professionalism of that group. There’s no doubt they have set the standard.” So far, the pair have combined for 11 1/3 scoreless innings, and Dunn has performed very well despite his signing receiving lukewarm reviews from commentators. As Groke points out, Holland and Dunn look like far better gambles so far than Chad Qualls and Jason Motte were in 2015-16 (Qualls is currently hurt; the Rockies recently released Motte, and he signed a minor-league deal with the Braves.) Of course, it’s very early in the season.
More on the Rockies, who improved to an NL West-best 8-5 on Saturday:
- With top starter Jon Gray set to miss at least a month with a foot injury, the Rockies figure to turn to one of Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez or Harrison Musgrave to fill the void, writes Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Veteran swingman Chris Rusin has more major league starting experience than any of them, but he isn’t in contention to reenter the Rockies’ rotation because they like the value he provides to their bullpen, Black indicated. The 24-year-old Hoffman and the 22-year-old Marquez are among the premier prospects in the game, with Baseball America ranking the former 36th and the latter 53rd, and the two garnered some big league experience last season. While the 25-year-old Musgrave hasn’t yet cracked the bigs, nor does he carry a high-end prospect pedigree, he did come close to winning a job with the Rockies during the spring, notes Harding.
- Outfielder David Dahl, on the shelf since early March with a stress fracture in his ribcage, feels healthy enough to return, but the Rockies are taking a cautious approach with the 23-year-old, per Groke. Dahl won’t be able to swing a bat until at least next week, as the Rockies first want to see the results from the MRI bone scan he’ll undergo April 21. “Honestly, I’ve been saying I’m ready to play. But they said you can feel good, but it still might not be healed,” said Dahl. “They want to make sure the bone scan comes back and it shows it’s healed.” If the scan yields good news, it should put Dahl on track to make his 2017 debut in May.
You can see Blacks experience as a pitcher with his use of the bullpen. It’s been just exquisite so far in both his usage and it’s effectiveness. I feel he didn’t have enough tools in San Diego to truly succeed. With the Rockies he can use his expertise of pitching to keep the bullpen together while his weakness, the offense, is covered by Coors Fields artificial production.
it’d be cool if they would just get healthy so we could see their full team play for a while.
The real difference, Black. He did amazing things with the pitching in San Diego.
The Rockies are definitely an interesting ball club.
Their starters Chatwood, Senzatella, Freeland, Anderson, and Gray, while possibly unspectacular, they are definitely a hungry group of talented guys that are all each ready and determined to make an impression this season. Even if there is an injury, like Gray’s injury now, the Rockies are actually set up pretty well to soften the blow for awhile. In the meantime, they can get some quality innings out of Hoffman, Marquez, or even Rusin, who is also individually off to a solid start.
Right now, their bullpen headlined by Dunn, Oberg, Ottavino, Holland, and Rusin, has shown some very positive signs towards future success. If their starters can hold up, and continue to grow together collectively, then this Rockies team can and will really suprise some people come time for the playoffs…Personally, I think they may be a year or two away, but they are certainly very close to getting where they want to be!!
With the way bullpens are, two years from now they could be a mess.