The Rockies have activated outfielder Charlie Blackmon and closer Wade Davis from the injured list, the club announced. Lefty Chris Rusin was designated for assignment to create one roster opening, with utilityman Garrett Hampson optioned for another.
The Colorado club will obviously be glad to welcome back two of its most-established veteran players. Neither required a lengthy absence, but any time away is more than the Rockies can afford. A recent run has the team three games over .500, but it’s still staring at a yawning ten-game chasm with the division-leading Dodgers on the other side.
Rusin only just returned to the majors after opening the year on the IL with back issues. He has not looked great. He was bombed in his first two outings, surrendering four earned runs on five hits while recording only three outs. And he’s already coming off of a messy 2018 effort in which he was torched for a 6.09 ERA.
Still, the peripherals suggested better last year. And Rusin was a strong performer in 2017, when he threw 85 innings of 2.65 ERA ball. Of course, he not only managed a typically strong 58.5% groundball rate that year but also produced a career-best 12.7% swinging-strike rate. He hasn’t come close before or since. Thus far in 2019, Rusin’s velocity is down and he hasn’t generated grounders (in the majors and during his rehab assignment).
The timing may feel a bit rushed at first glance, particularly for a player who is earning $1,687,500 (with one more year of arbitration control remaining). It makes more sense when you tabulate Rusin’s service time. He entered the season with 4.092 years on the ticker; with 71 more accrued to this point, he’s sitting just nine days shy of reaching five full years of service. At that point, he’d be able to reject an outright assignment without sacrificing the remainder of his salary. By making the move now, the Rockies can either shed the remaining obligation (if he’s claimed or rejects an assignment) or stash Rusin at Triple-A and try to work out the kinks.