Update: Struggles of Shaw Prompt Move to Disabled List

Bryan Shaw is in a funk.

And for now, the Rockies have put his situation on hold.

Shaw was officially placed on the disabled list Sunday with a right calf strain, a day after manager Bud Black indicated Shaw might benefit from taking a step back from high-leverage game situations.

For now, the Rockies recalled right-hander Yency Almonte, who made his big-league debut in back-to-back relief appearances Thursday and Friday, and was optioned back to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday to make room for the call-up of infielder Pat Valaika.

And in the next few days Black will have other options to consider to perk up the bullpen.

Relievers Scott Oberg, a right-hander, and Mike Dunn, a left-hander, began a medical rehab assignment on Saturday night with Triple-A Albuquerque. The plan is for them to make another appearance Monday for High-A Lancaster, and then join the Rockies in San Francisco, where the Rockies open a three-game series Tuesday.

Antonio Senzatela, who opened the season in the Rockies bullpen but was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to pitch out of the Isotopes rotation, and build up his durability in case a need arose in the big-league rotation, came off the Triple-A disabled list on Saturday, and made his first appearance in 17 days. 

And on Monday, Carlos Estevez, who has been out since the second week of the minor-league season, will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Albuquerque. He will make three appearances with two days break, and then will be put into working every other day for a couple assignments, which means he could be another option for the Rockies in two weeks or so.

Black has in the past remained a supporter of Shaw, mentioning that he has maintained velocity. On Saturday, however, after Shaw gave up a grand slam to J.T. Realmuto that was the key to the Marlins 6-2 victory at Coors Field, it was apparent the concern was growing.

"That's possible," Black said when asked about Shaw moving into another role. "We have some guys coming back that might potentially be able to go that way to give Bryan a little step back."

There seemed to be a miscommunication on the pitch Shaw threw Realmuto.

"The Realmuto at-bat was a tough one," Black said after the game. "He elevated some pitches. Realmuto fouled some balls (down) off, and then squared a high fastball up and hit it the other way. Not the location Bryan intended it. Wanted it down and way. Didn't get there. Another pitch that wasn't executed down in the strike zone."

Shaw, however, said the pitch was supposed to be "up and away. We got it up and away. He hit it. That wasn't necessarily a bad pitch. . .. He fouled off some good pitches (down and in). Like I said, we tried to elevate there. He hit it. Maybe we don't try and elevate, if we throw something different there, a different result obviously. But that was our plan. When (catcher Tony) Wolters came out (to the mound), that's what we said we were going to do. So we executed where we wanted to and he hit it."

Problem is the pitch was where Realmuto wanted it.

"A guy on third and less than two outs, I was trying my best to hit a fly ball, put the ball in play, bascially," he said, "get a pitch up in the zone and put a good swing on it."

That's what he got, and that's what he did with it.

And Black indicated Shaw's problems this season have dealt with getting pitches up.

"I think it really comes down to location," said Black. "If you boil it down, ball's been up and not where it needs to be, which is down. And down and away, the ball moving away from the right-handed hitter, down in the strike zone. There's where we're trying to get to.

"Whether it's a combination of some mechanics we're focusing on, whether it's mental, whether it's trying too hard to get this done, like a lot of players do when they come to a new team, and you got a contract, and you're trying to impress. You are not quite loose and free. But we might have to take a step back with Bryan going forward, if we get some of our guys back."

Shaw, however, downplayed any pressure from the three-year, $27 million contract he signed after becoming a free agent following last season. 

"I think that's just something that people kind of say,"  he said. "There's no point in trying to do something different because of a contract or where you sign or anything else. There's a reason that you got what you got where you are. So there's no point in changing it."

Shaw's results, however, have changed, dramatically, which is the concern. He was one of the most consistent setup men in baseball the last five seasons in Cleveland, which was what led to the Rockies pursuit of him on the free-agent market.

He did open the season with six scoreless appearances, allowing five hits and a walk in 5 2/3 appearances. Since then, however, it has been a struggle. He has a 9.00 ERA in 30 innings over 35 appearances.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Year Team W L SV SVO G INN H R ER HR BB SO WHIP ERA
2013 Indians 7 3 1 5 70 75.0 60 31 27 4 28 73 1.17 3.24
2014 Indians 5 5 2 9 80 76.1 61 26 22 6 22 64 1.09 2.59
2015 Indians 3 3 2 6 74 64.0 59 24 21 8 19 54 1.22 2.95
2016 Indians 2 5 1 4 75 66.2 56 26 24 8 28 69 1.26 3.24
2017 Indians 4 6 3 6 79 76.2 71 36 30 5 22 73 1.21 3.52
Indians Totals 21 22 9 30 378 358.2 307 143 124 31 119 333 1.19 3.11
2018 Rockies 3 5 0 4 41 35.2 50 36 30 8 20 34 1.96 7.57