- The Rockies placed RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez on the IL on Friday with right biceps tendinitis and recalled fellow righty Ryan Castellani, per a team announcement. Gonzalez has made one start for the club this year, but he yielded three earned runs during that three-inning performance. Castellani, meanwhile, ranks as Colorado’s 18th overall prospect at MLB.com. He’s finally in line to make his Rockies debut six years after the team selected him in the second round of the 2014 draft. Castellani struggled to an 8.31 ERA with 9.76 K/9 and 6.23 BB/9 in 43 1/3 innings in his first Triple-A action last year.
It isn’t entirely clear whether Shaw has consented to the assignment. With more than five years of MLB service, he has the right instead to reject it in favor of free agency.
Shaw, 32, is still being paid by the Rockies under his free agent contract. He landed with the Seattle organization after being cut loose. After one initial scoreless appearance, the once-excellent setup man has surrendered three or more runs in each of his past three outings.
- It appears the right shoulder strain that sent Rockies reliever Wade Davis to the IL over the weekend will keep him on ice for the foreseeable future. Manager Bud Black said Wednesday that Davis still hasn’t begun throwing yet, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post relays. Davis’ injury is the latest setback in what has been a horrid Colorado tenure since he signed a three-year, $52MM deal with the club going into 2018. The three-time All-Star has recorded a 6.18 ERA/4.67 FIP in 110 2/3 innings as a Rockie.
The Rockies have added catcher Brian Serven to the 60-man player pool, per a team announcement. He’d still need to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be brought onto the active roster.
Serven, 25, was taken in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He had a rough offensive season in 2019, turning in a .202/.286/.364 slash in 276 Double-A plate appearances. The organization is obviously still holding out hope that his abilities at the plate will catch up to his skill behind it.
Neither Colorado nor San Diego entered the season as teams expected to contend for playoff berths, but both the Rockies and Padres have been among the National League’s best teams a week-plus into what will go down as a strange 2020 campaign. The NL West rivals met over the weekend, and the Rockies took two of three to vault them into first place in the division – yes, even ahead of the mighty Dodgers – with a 6-2 record. The Padres, who are trying to snap a 13-year playoff drought, are now a game back at 6-4.
When the dust settles at year’s end (if a full season actually happens), there’s little doubt that the Dodgers will be the top team standing in the NL West. Frankly, they’re too loaded to expect otherwise. But it would still be a major accomplishment for the Rockies or Padres to earn wild-card berths. Colorado’s not far removed from back-to-back playoff spots, having played meaningful October ball in 2017-18, though the team fell on hard times during a 71-win effort last season and did little to nothing to improve during the offseason. San Diego was pretty aggressive, meanwhile, though it entered the winter as a 70-win team with a similarly high hill to climb.
The fact that the league added three extra playoff teams in each league for 2020 obviously helps the causes of every club, especially those that have started well this year. The Rockies have charged to first in their division on the strength of some of the usual suspects (Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, German Marquez and Jon Gray), and they’ve done so despite struggles from team MVP Nolan Arenado. Surprisingly, though, veterans Daniel Murphy, Matt Kemp and Daniel Bard – whose best days seemed long gone when the season started – have picked up some of the slack.
The Padres are playing .600 ball in the early going thanks in no small part to continued marvelous performances from second-year stars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, but they’ve also gotten excellent production from other sources. Outfielder and offseason acquisition Trent Grisham has been fantastic; so have currently injured first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder Wil Myers, both disappointments in recent years, as well as righty Dinelson Lamet. To the surprise of no one who has paid attention to his career, newcomer and outfielder Tommy Pham has also thrived. The Padres also sport an impressive bullpen on paper, though the unit’s off to a surprisingly poor start. Regardless, in order to upgrade their cast of pitchers, the Padres could pick from a deep well of prospects (MacKenzie Gore? Luis Patino?) if they need to bolster their roster in the next couple months.
It’s going to be interesting to see if either of these rival clubs will emerge as playoff teams in 2020. They’ve certainly begun well, but which one is more likely to keep up its current pace? (Poll link for app users)
The Rockies made some significant bullpen moves today, moving closer Wade Davis to the 10-day injured list due to a right shoulder strain. Right-hander Joe Harvey has been recalled to take Davis’ spot on the active roster. In more troubling news, right-hander Scott Oberg has been moved from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL due to blood clots in his throwing arm.
Oberg was previously on the injured list due to a back strain, though a throwing session on Saturday was ended early after Oberg was had “a little discomfort in the hand” and “had a hard time gripping the ball,” as manager Bud Black told MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and other reporters. Further tests revealed the blood clots, marking the second time in two seasons and the third overall time in Oberg’s career that he had dealt with such a problem.
The right-hander has had to undergo three separate surgeries in efforts to dissolve the clots, and a fourth procedure could quite possibly be in the cards given the seemingly perpetual nature of the issue. Black hinted today that Oberg might not take the field in 2020, telling Harding and other media “it’s going to be awhile if at all for Scott this season.”
Despite all the health concerns, the Rockies signed Oberg to a three-year, $13MM extension this past winter, covering his final two arbitration-eligible years, his first free agent year, and potentially the 2023 season as well via an $8MM club option. It was a commitment the Rox were comfortable making given how well Oberg performed in 2018-19, as he posted a 2.35 ERA, 3.29 K/BB rate, 9.0 K/9 over 114 2/3 innings.
Davis recorded saves in his first two outings this season but blew up in two-thirds of an inning against the Padres on Friday night, surrendering four earned runs in the form of home runs from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Tommy Pham. A shoulder issue could be the reason for Davis’ poor showing, though it marked an unwelcome continuation of Davis’ disastrous form from the 2019 season. He managed only an 8.65 ERA over 42 2/3 innings, though things didn’t really go south for Davis until after he returned from an oblique injury last June, so health could potentially have been a factor.
2020 is the last guaranteed year of the three-year, $52MM contract Davis signed with Colorado prior to the 2018 season. The $15MM mutual option in the deal for 2021 can vest into a player option, though it still isn’t entirely clear what new number of games finished Davis would have to accumulate in order to gain control over his 2021 salary. That said, it might be a moot point given that Davis’ injury and his overall struggles will leave the Rockies turning to another option for the ninth inning. Jairo Diaz is the top closer candidate at this point, though Carlos Estevez or comeback kid Daniel Bard may also get consideration for save opportunities.
With final roster decisions in the books and the 2020 season underway, it’s time to make some predictions. We’re polling the MLBTR readership on each of the game’s six divisions — though plenty more teams will crack the postseason under the rather inclusive new playoff qualification system. We’ve already surveyed the AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL Central, and NL East landscapes, so it’s time to wrap things up with the National League West.
The Dodgers have owned this division for some time now and are perhaps more laden with star-level talent than ever with Mookie Betts on board. Then again, they may be more vulnerable than ever in a short-season format. There’s a nice assembly of talent on the Diamondbacks roster, which includes an elite young player in Ketel Marte and a sturdy slate of veterans now highlighted by intra-division transferee Madison Bumgarner. Then again, you could argue that the Padres have the greatest capacity to surprise with their own budding legend in Fernando Tatis Jr., still-youthful star Manny Machado, and a potential-laden rotation. The Rockies have an excellent core unit in their own right and perhaps have more upside than is generally recognized. And while the Giants don’t really appear primed to compete, they managed to do so last year and still have a lot of players with lofty established performance ceilings at the game’s highest level — even if it has been a few years.
Which team do you think is going to take the division title? (Poll link for app users.)
The Rockies announced Monday that left-hander Tim Collins has informed the club that he will opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season. He’d been in the team’s 60-man player pool but did not make the Opening Day, 30-man roster.
Colorado has also formally added nine players to its 60-man pool, per the announcement. Joining the group are right-handers Tommy Doyle, Karl Kauffmann and Wes Parsons; infielders Aaron Schunk, Michael Toglia, Ryan Vilade and Colton Welker; lefty Helcris Olivarez; and catcher Willie MacIver.
The Rockies’ announcement comes after two game — the Marlins/Orioles tilt in Miami and the Phillies/Yankees contest in Philadelphia — were postponed due to Covid-19 concerns. However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Collins had already informed the team of his decision to opt out prior to today’s news. That said, with 11 players and a pair of coaches testing positive in the Marlins organization alone since Friday, it’s certainly possible that we’ll see another wave of players decide to step away from the season citing health and safety concerns.
Collins, 30, was a staple in the Royals’ bullpen from 2011-14, pitching to a 3.54 ERA with better than a strikeout per frames part of a relief corps that eventually served as the backbone for consecutive World Series appearances. Unfortunately for Collins, he was only a part of the 2014 World Series runner-up roster, as he underwent Tommy John surgery early in 2015. When Collins appeared on the cusp of returning in 2016, he suffered a second UCL tear that led to a second Tommy John surgery.
All told, Collins missed the 2015-17 seasons while recovering, but he returned to the mound in 2018 and made it back to the Majors with the Nationals. In two seasons since his return, he’s totaled 31 1/3 frames in the Majors and logged a 4.02 ERA with a 25-to-15 K/BB ratio. He’s handled righties better than lefties in his career to date, so Collins isn’t necessarily impacted by the three-batter minimum rule like some other southpaws might be.
The 2020 season could’ve been a proving grounds of sorts for Collins, who is still young enough to reestablish himself as a quality reliever. But he’ll instead opt to step aside amid the current health concerns and likely look for another minor league deal this winter.
The Rockies have set their 30-man, Opening Day roster, per a club announcement. Notably, top infield prospect Brendan Rodgers did not make the cut and has been optioned to the team’s alternate site. The club also revealed that righty Peter Lambert, who has been sidelined with forearm pain, underwent Tommy John surgery and has been placed on the 45-day injured list. Placing Lambert on the 45-day IL opens a 40-man spot which was needed to accommodate the selection of non-roster players Matt Kemp, Daniel Bard and Chris Owings, which were reported last week.
That Rogers didn’t make the cut comes as something of a surprise. Shoulder surgery torpedoed his would-be debut campaign last year — he received 81 plate appearances before being injured — but the former No. 3 overall pick is still viewed as a top prospect and vital part of the Rockies’ future. While he won’t begin the year with the club, it still seems safe to expect that Rodgers will get a decent run in the big leagues this year, so long as he’s healthy. With Trevor Story entrenched at shortstop through at least 2021, Rodgers’ most immediate path to the everyday lineup is at second base.
The addition of the universal DH in 2020 should allow Colorado to play Daniel Murphy at DH more, with Ryan McMahon occupying first base, which would ostensibly clear a spot for Rodgers. For the time being, though, perhaps the preference is to get Garrett Hampson and McMahon some reps at the keystone while continuing to work Rodgers back into to MLB readiness.
The loss of Lambert not only for this season but for most or all of 2021 also stings for the club. He wasn’t expected to open the year in the Rockies’ rotation, but he was considered to be among the organization’s premier pitching prospects heading into 2019 and even made the back of some top 100 rankings at the time. Last year’s MLB debut didn’t go well to say the least — 72 runs in 89 1/3 innings — but Lambert only recently turned 23 this summer. He may be out until the 2022 season at this point, though he’s at least young enough that he has ample time to bounce back and still establish himself in the big leagues while in the midst of his prime years.
The Mariners announced this morning that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Bryan Shaw to a Major League deal. It was reported earlier this week that Shaw, who was recently released by the Rockies, was expected to sign in Seattle. He’ll go right onto the 30-man roster for the Mariners. Seattle also placed catcher Tom Murphy on the 10-day IL with a fractured metatarsal in his left foot and added catcher Joe Odom to the 60-man player pool.
Shaw, 32, was an absolute workhorse out of the Indians’ bullpen for the better part of a decade but struggled immediately upon joining the Rockies on a three-year deal prior to the 2018 season. He’s earning $9MM on that pact, but the Mariners will only be responsible for the prorated league minimum for any time he spends on the roster. The Rockies are on the hook for the rest.
Over the past two seasons in Colorado, Shaw has been hammered for a 5.61 ERA as his HR/9 rate more than doubled from his Cleveland days. It might be easy to assume that’s attributable to Coors Field and Denver’s altitude, but Shaw wasn’t demonstrably better on the road as a Rockie than he was at home; in fact, he pitched much better at Coors Field in 2019 than he did away from Colorado.
That said, prior to his ugly tenure with the Rox, Shaw was a prominent setup man who’d rattled off a a 3.13 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 446 1/3 MLB frames between the D-backs and Indians. With a track record like that and plenty of uncertainty in the Seattle ’pen, it’s not hard to see why Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto felt it worth taking a look. Shaw could have some high-leverage work early in the year even, particularly with Austin Adams opening the year on the injured list.
As for Murphy, it’s a tough blow for the former Rockies top prospect who enjoyed a breakout with the Mariners in 2019. He’d been expected to begin the year as the team’s starting catcher — his first-ever Opening Day as a primary backstop — but that role will now go to Austin Nola. The converted infielder turned heads in the upper minors with the Marlins after his position change and eventually broke through in the big leagues last year with a .269/.342/.454 showing in 79 games as a 29-year-old rookie.