- The Rockies play the Padres this weekend in a three-game series that has few relevant ramifications–aside from which team may be hung with the unflattering distinction of being the so-called cellar dweller in the NL West this year. There may be another bright spot in the offing for Colorado as their season yawns to a close, however, as word now comes that pitcher Kyle Freeland is one step closer to ending his troubled 2019 season on a positive note. Manager Bud Black told Thomas Harding of MLB.com that Freeland threw an issue-free, two-inning simulated bullpen session on Saturday–the 26-year-old’s latest step in recovery from a groin injury suffered on Aug. 21. After vexing hitters thoroughly in 2018 (2.85 ERA in 202.2 innings), this season has been a true test of faith for Freeland, as his 6.98 ERA in 99.1 innings of work was the worst mark among all pitchers who tossed more than 90 IP this year.
Rockies outfielder David Dahl says he won’t continue pressing to return late this year, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports on Twitter. That’s not terribly surprising with just two weeks left in a lost season.
Dahl had been working steadily back from a high ankle sprain — the latest in a string of injuries that have limited the talented performer to this point of his career. Fortunately, he says that he is making good progress. And this appears to be a one-off injury, entirely unrelated to the core-muscle maladies that had plagued him previously.
This will still end up being Dahl’s most voluminous MLB campaign to date. He appeared in an even 100 games — meaning he spent sufficient time on the active roster to be eligible for Super Two status. Dahl is certain to have sufficient service time, though his lost time will certainly limit his earnings.
Dahl won’t reach his 26th birthday until next April Fools’ Day, so he’s still plenty youthful. And he’ll be under arbitration control through 2023, meaning the Rox have ample time left to accrue value.
While he doesn’t draw many walks, Dahl hits for a high average with good power. He’s a lifetime .297/.346/.521 hitter in the majors — though that translates to a good-but-not-superlative 110 wRC+ once accounted for context. Defensive metrics haven’t been particularly fond of Dahl’s glovework, though they’re especially hard to trust at Coors Field.
UZR was actually fond of Dahl’s performance in a 300+ inning sample this year in center field. It seems the Rockies agree with that assessment. Skipper Bud Black says that Dahl will play up the middle when he returns next year, as Nick Groke of The Athletic covers on Twitter.
- It’s becoming more likely that Rockies outfielder David Dahl won’t play again this year, Nick Groke of The Athletic tweets. Even though Dahl’s progressing in his recovery from the ankle sprain he suffered Aug. 2, manager Bud Black admitted he’s “running out of time” for a 2019 return. Regardless of whether Dahl does come back, this will go down as yet another injury-limited season for the 25-year-old, who has combined for only 240 games since he debuted in 2016 (he didn’t play at all in ’17). A healthy Dahl, to his credit, has been an effective hitter – he got off to a .302/.353/.524 start with 15 HRs in 413 trips to the plate this year before landing on the shelf.
- Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson underwent season-ending left knee surgery back on June 11, but he still won’t be at full strength at the beginning of next year, per manager Bud Black (via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post). The hope is that Anderson will come back “within the first couple of months” of 2020, Black said. The 29-year-old Anderson’s procedure wrapped up a nightmarish campaign for a hurler who was a respectable member of the Rockies’ rotation from 2016-18. He yielded 27 earned runs on 33 hits, including eight homers, in 20 2/3 innings this season.
The Rockies announced a series of roster moves today as they prepare to finish out a disappointing campaign. Previously designated outfielder Noel Cuevas was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers. And the club has recalled a pair of hurlers — lefty Phillip Diehl and righty Joe Harvey — to fill out the relief corps down the stretch.
Cuevas is a versatile outfielder but just hasn’t hit enough to hang onto a 40-man spot. He has put up solid numbers in the upper minors in the past, but produced at just under the league-average rate this year at the Triple-A level. Cuevas managed only a .233/.268/.315 batting line in a 153-plate appearance debut in the big leagues last year.
The two hurlers will be looking for a chance to show they deserve to hang onto their own MLB roster places over the course of the coming offseason. Diehl, 25, debuted briefly earlier this season. He owns a 5.22 ERA in 58 2/3 innings in the upper minors, with 9.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 but an unhealthy tally of 16 long balls. Likewise, the 27-year-old Harvey received his first shot at the majors this year — though his came with the Yankees, who later shipped him to Colorado in the quietest deal of deadline day. Harvey has been knocked around since joining the Rox’ top affiliate but will nevertheless get another look in the bigs.
The Rockies have selected the contract of veteran catcher Drew Butera from Triple-A and designated outfielder Noel Cuevas for assignment, per a club announcement. Colorado also recalled infielder Josh Fuentes from Triple-A.
It’ll be Butera’s second go-around with the Rockies, as the 36-year-old also suited up for Colorado late last season following an August trade. A well-regarded defender and game caller, Butera has managed only a .201/.258/.299 batting line in 1364 plate appearances at the MLB level. He hit .300/.389/.511 in Triple-A this season — a dramatic increase from his career production at that level — and will give manager Bud Black some depth behind the plate to help rest Tony Wolters and Dom Nunez down the stretch. Butera will be a free agent at season’s end.
Cuevas, 27, batted .233/.268/.315 in 153 plate appearances for the Rockies in 2018 but has appeared in just one MLB game so far in 2019. Cuevas hit well in Triple-A in both 2017 and 2018 but has put together a rather pedestrian .278/.358/.439 batting line (96 wRC+) in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2019. He’s capable of playing all three outfield spots and does have a minor league option remaining beyond the current season.
Fuentes, 26, batted just .254/.298/.448 in Triple-A this season while striking out at a 27 percent clip. That’s a far cry from last year’s .327/.354/.517 line and 17.4 percent strikeout rate in 586 plate appearances at the same level.
- Rockies reliever Scott Oberg explained to Thomas Harding of MLB.com why he recently underwent surgery to address blood clots in his right arm, saying, “It just felt really heavy.” It’s the second instance of blood clots for Oberg, but fortunately, he’s not suffering from any kind of major medical condition. The soon-to-be 30-year-old expects to be ready to go for 2020, when he’ll try to build on a second straight impressive campaign. This season has been anything but impressive for Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland, who’s currently on the IL with a strained groin, but he’s working toward a return; however, there’s no timetable for a possible comeback, Harding relays. Freeland went from Cy Young candidate a year ago to someone who has faced a minor league demotion this season and pitched to a ghastly 6.98 ERA/6.12 FIP over 20 starts and 99 1/3 innings in the bigs.
Faced with increasing rotation needs, the Rockies are slated to promote prospect Rico Garcia, according to MLB.com’s William Boor (via Twitter). Corresponding roster moves aren’t yet known; Garcia will require a 40-man spot.
Just a 30th-round pick in the 2016 draft, Garcia has steadily increased his profile. He has thoroughly dominated the Double-A level, turning in a sparkling 2.07 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 135 frames over 24 starts split about evenly between 2018 and 2019.
Garcia has run into some long balls since moving up to Triple-A, however. He owns an ugly 7.16 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 2.1 HR/9 in 55 1/3 innings this year at the highest level of the minors.
Before his recent rough stretch, Garcia had earned placement in top-thirty prospect lists produced by MLB.com and Baseball America. He also warranted a mention from the Fangraphs prospect team, though the assessment there was that his limited secondary repertoire foretold a future in the bullpen.
The Rockies will evidently give Garcia a shot to show he can stick in the rotation before considering him for a relief job. But this promotion may be as much about immediate need as it is a desire to give a showcase to a promising young hurler. Garcia would have commanded a slot on the 40-man this fall regardless, in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
The Rockies announced that they’ve placed right-hander German Marquez and outfielder Raimel Tapia on the 10-day injured list. The club recalled lefty Phillip Diehl and righty Joe Harvey from Triple-A Albuquerque in corresponding moves.
Marquez is heading to the shelf with inflammation of his pitching arm, which will cut off a second straight impressive season for the 24-year-old. Marquez amassed 230 strikeouts and logged a 3.77 ERA over 196 innings last season, which helped the Rockies to the playoffs and earned him a five-year, $43MM contract extension in April. Neither the out-of-contention Rockies nor Marquez have reached that form in 2019, but he has nonetheless been formidable. Marquez has fired 174 frames of 4.76 ERA/4.06 FIP pitching with 9.05 K/9, 1.81 BB/9 and a 49 percent groundball rate.
Tapia’s down with a left hand contusion, but unlike Marquez, he hasn’t established himself yet. Through 393 plate appearances, the 25-year-old Tapia’s a .295/.326/.440 hitter. That looks good on paper, but with park factors in the mix, it only adds up to an 82 wRC+/83 OPS+. Tapia has also struggled to minus-4 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 746 innings divided among all three outfield positions this season. The package has been worth minus-0.5 fWAR, making Tapia one of the least valuable major leaguers of 2019 by that metric.
- Finally, updates on a couple injured Rockies, courtesy of Thomas Harding of MLB.com (Twitter links): veteran right-hander Chad Bettis confirmed he’ll undergo season-ending surgery to correct a right hip impingement, marking the end of a year in which Bettis pitched to a 6.06 ERA. On the other hand, left-hander Kyle Freeland is working through a throwing program in hopes of mounting a late-season comeback from a groin strain, says Harding. Freeland’s 6.98 ERA is one of the chief reasons the Rockies have slumped to a 58-72 record in a year in which they hoped to contend.