The Colorado Rockies spent $106 million on their bullpen in the offseason, and the result of their spending spree has been a colossal failure. In fact, the Rockies’ bullpen is their Achilles heel so much to the point where if they continue to perform at the ineptitude which they are, the Rockies won’t be able to play baseball in October.
The biggest signing the Rockies made in the offseason was Wade Davis. Inking the All-Star reliever to a record-setting three-year, $52 million deal, they expected him to come in and lock down the ninth inning for the next three years. But he’s provided manager Bud Black with no such relief. Currently owning a career-worst 5.09 ERA, as well as a 1.24 WHIP and recording six blown saves, Davis is putting together the worst season of his 10-year career. He’s getting hit hard in save situations, and, at times, can’t make it through one inning. The same goes for Bryan Shaw — who the Rockies inked to a three-year, $27 million deal.
Going into this season, Shaw had previously served as a reliable middle and setup reliever in the Cleveland Indians bullpen. This year, he’s been anything but that for the Rockies. Currently owning an abysmal 6.75 ERA and 1.85 WHIP and being 0-4 in save situations, Shaw has been an unstable arm in the Rockies pen. He’s struggling to get through innings, is often taken out of games after putting runners on base, and is getting tattooed out there.
But wait, it gets worse for the Rockies. To go along with Davis and Shaw struggling in the first year of their new contracts, lefty Jake McGee has been equally as troublesome. Currently sporting a 6.63 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, he’s been unable to come into games and get lefties out, or consistently get through innings without harm. Under contract for the next two and a half seasons at roughly $9 million per year, there is concern as to whether he too could pan out to be a horrific signing by Rockies management. And his severe struggles are hard to fathom given that he pitched in Colorado two years before re-signing on a three-year deal.Despite some big-name offseason signings, the @Rockies bullpen has been horrendous and is threatening their postseason chances.Click To Tweet
Davis, Shaw, and McGee have been huge disappointments and are instrumental pieces to one of, if not the worst bullpen in Major League Baseball. Going into Saturday, the Rockies bullpen was 29th in Major League Baseball in ERA (5.23), 26th in opponent on-base percentage (.346), and 22nd in opponent batting average (.260) And when you look at how the Rockies have been able to lean on their lineup for success, one can’t help but wonder where they’d be if their bullpen was, at the very least, respectable.
When you have a lineup that features the likes of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez, and Gerardo Parra, among others, an average pitching staff should be enough for that team to be in the playoffs, especially when you take into account the mediocrity of the National League this season. The Chicago Cubs own the best record in the NL at 64-46. To put that in perspective, the Oakland Athletics are the second Wild Card seed in the American League at 66-46.
Plus, while it’s still far from elite, the Rockies starting staff has improved and is capable of giving them successful outings.
Kyle Freeland has emerged as the Rockies ace, currently owning a 3.20 ERA and surrendering five or more runs in just one start this season. Tyler Anderson has also come into his own. Going into his Saturday afternoon start against the Milwaukee Brewers, he owned a 3.69 ERA and was pitching deep into games. The two lefties are the best rotation duo the Rockies have fielded in quite some time, and they makeup for the ongoing struggles of Jon Gray, German Marquez, and the injured Chad Bettis.
Everyone knows the notion surrounding Coors Field: home runs are hit with ease, and pitchers don’t stand a chance versus high-octane lineups in the ballpark. And the Rockies have made the decision to not look to the outside to upgrade their starting pitching, so they took a different approach in the offseason, going all-in on creating a “super bullpen” — which has fallen flat on its face.
Every contending team in the NL has a weakness. The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the worst hitting teams in baseball; the Atlanta Braves have a shaky bullpen; the Cubs have uncertainty in their starting rotation; the Brewers don’t have a bonafide ace; the Arizona Diamondbacks have an inconsistent offense; the Los Angeles Dodgers always have concern regarding their starting rotation in the postseason. But all of those teams’ biggest weaknesses is not detrimental to the point where they could miss the playoffs because of the liability; the Rockies’ glaring hole has the potential to be that tragic. When you can’t pick up where your starters leave things and continue to blow leads in the late innings, it becomes contagious. It’s reaching the point where the Rockies bullpen blowing a game in the eighth or ninth inning is routine.
The Rockies are just three games out of first place in the National League West and 2.5 games out of a Wild Card seeding with two months left to go in the regular season. There’s plenty of time left for them to pick up the slack and make a run. But if their bullpen continues to throw away games, the Rockies won’t make it back to the playoffs, and they certainly won’t finish ahead of the Diamondbacks or Dodgers in the NL West.