Rockies: Is There Relief in Sight?

The Rockies moved into first-place in the NL West with a win at Dodger Stadium on Monday, taking a half-game edge on the Diamondbacks. They woke up Sunday morning a half-game up on the D-Backs, still. But it's been more of a matter of an ongoing slide by the D-Backs than anything the Rockies have done.

The Rockies suffered a 6-5 loss to the Reds at Coors Field on Saturday night, their third loss in four games since moving ahead of Arizona. The D-Backs, meanwhile, have lost 14 of their last 16 games. But here's the rub. The Giants, who open a three-game series at Coors Field on Monday, are now just two games back of the Rockies, and the Dodgers, who visit Coors Field for three games next weekend, are 3 1/2 back.

Bottom line? The Rockies have been unable to take advantage of the struggles around the division. And for all the concern that has been raised about an offense that has not been as productive as anticipated, what's been most concerning is a bullpen that was the focus of the off-season spending has struggled to finish off games.

There was a frustrating ending on Saturday night. Down by a run, the Rockies loaded the bases with nobody out, but Charlie Blackmon grounded into a fielder's choice, and David Dahl lined into a game-ending double play.

"I thought it was a game winner," said Dahl. "(Second baseman Scooter Gennett) made a good play. I went from a high to a low in a hurry."

That was where the game ended. It wasn't, however, where it was lost.

There was no relief in sight -- again.

Tyler Anderson weaved his way through six innings, turning a 4-3 lead over the bullpen thanks in big part to outfielder Dahl who doubled home two runs in the third, and delivered the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth after Blackmon tripled home the tying run.

Three batters into the seventh inning, however, the Reds had taken a 5-4 lead that grew to 6-4 before the inning had ended.. First Chris Rusin gave up a lead-off single to Scott Schebler, and game-tying triple to Billy Hamilton. On came Bryan Shaw, who Jose Peraza greeted with a go-ahead single, eventually scoring a sixth run on Shaw's wild pitch.

So what gives? Well, the rotation hasn't been eye-popping, but it's been solid. The starters went into Sunday with a 4.25 ERA, which would be the third lowest in franchise history. Remember, this is a franchise that in its first 25 years, had a rotation with an ERA below 5.00 only nine times.

For Starters

Season W L Pct ERA
2009 69 50 0.58 4.1
2010 58 52 0.527 4.21
2018 19 18 0.514 4.25
2013 54 60 0.474 4.57
2007 55 47 0.539 4.58
2017 63 56 0.529 4.59
2006 52 63 0.452 4.72
2011 53 68 0.438 4.73
2016 53 58 0.477 4.79
2014 44 65 0.404 4.89

Source: Stats, Inc.

Rockies starters have 25 quality starts -- six or more innings, three earned runs or fewer -- which ranks third in the NL, behind only the Nationals and the Phillies. And Kyle Freeland, with seven quality starts, is tied for fourth in the NL, two behind Max Scherzer of the Nationals, and one behind Aaron Nola of the Phillies and Tanner Roark of the Nationals, who are tied for second.

Quality Efforts

Team QS Player Team QS
Washington Nationals 29 Max Scherzer Was 9
Philadelphia Phillies 26 Aaron Nola Phi 8
Colorado Rockies 25 Tanner Roark Was 8
St. Louis Cardinals 24 Kyle Freeland Col 7
Arizona Diamondbacks 22 Kyle Hendricks ChC 7
Chicago Cubs 22 Tyson Ross SD 7
Los Angeles Dodgers 22 Stephen Strasburg Was 7
Pittsburgh Pirates 22 Noah Syndergaard NYM 7
Atlanta Braves 20
New York Mets 19
San Diego Padres 18
San Francisco Giants 18
Miami Marlins 16
Cincinnati Reds 15
Milwaukee Brewers 15

Source: Stats, Inc.

The Rockies do lead the NL with 19 saves, but they also have nine blown, tied for the second most among NL bullpen with the Brewers, and two fewer than a Dodgers' team that has been a disappointment so far this season.

Closing It Out

Team Sv SvOP SV%
San Diego Padres 16 19 84.2
Atlanta Braves 12 16 75
Arizona Diamondbacks 14 19 73.7
Philadelphia Phillies 13 18 72.2
Chicago Cubs 12 17 70.6
Cincinnati Reds 11 16 68.8
New York Mets 15 22 68.2
Washington Nationals 15 22 68.2
Colorado Rockies 19 28 67.9
St. Louis Cardinals 12 19 63.2
Miami Marlins 10 16 62.5
Milwaukee Brewers 15 24 62.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 18 61.1
San Francisco Giants 11 19 57.9
Los Angeles Dodgers 13 24 54.2

Source: Stats, Inc.

Looking to shore up the bullpen, the Rockies off-season splash was the signing of closer Wade Davis to the highest annual average value ($17.3 million) ever for a reliever, plus right-handed setup reliever Bryan Shaw, and left-handed setup reliever Jake McGee, who returned after filing for free agency. Five of the top 10 salaries on the Rockies this year belong to relievers. The combined $48.5 million earned by those five represent 35 percent of the Rockies season-opening $137 million, according to information provided by Cot's Baseball Contracts.

The Price of Relief

Player, pos 2018 Salary Contract
Ian Desmond, 1b $22 million 5 years-$70 million (2017-21)
Nolan Arenado, 3b $17.75 millon 2 years-$29.5 million (2017-18)
Wade Davis, reliever $16 million 3 years-$52 million (2018-20)
Charlie Blackmon, cf $14 million 6 years-$108 million*
D.J. LeMahieu, 2b $8.5 million 1 year-$8.5 million
Gerardo Parra, of $8 million 3 years-$27.5 million
Bryan Shaw, reliever $7.5 million 3 years-$27 million (2018-20)
Jake McGee, reliever $7 million 3 years-$27 million (2018-20)
Mike Dunn, reliever $7 million 3 years-$19 million (2017-19)
Adam Ottavino, reliever $7 million 3 years-$10.4 million (2016-18)
*-player option 2022-23

McGee and Shaw, in particular, have struggled with Ottavino and Dunn starting to handle more of the later inning assignments. Davis leads baseball in saves with 18, and the Rockies have won 19 of the 20 games in which he has entered in a save situation. Ottavino and Dunn have stepped into the set up roles. A key for the Rockies will be for Shaw and McGee to get back on track, which would give the Rockies the bullpen depth they anticipated.

Looking for Relief

Player G Sv SvOP SV% BS ERA
Bryan Shaw 27 0 3 0 3 5.92
Wade Davis 22 18 20 90 2 2.53
Jake McGee 20 0 1 0 1 5.82
Scott Oberg 10 0 1 0 1 6.55
Adam Ottavino 26 1 2 50 1 0.98
Mike Dunn 17 0 0 - 0 6.75
Harrison Musgrave 5 0 0 - 0 1.29
Brooks Pounders 6 0 0 - 0 4
Chris Rusin 14 0 0 - 0 6.43
x-Antonio Senzatela 10 0 0 - 0 6.23
x-Currently at AAA
Source: Stats Inc.