Rockies Have to Wonder: Is There Relief in Sight?

The Rockies went into the past off-season confident about the impact the offense could make in 2018. They were excited about the evolution of a young starting rotation. They were in search of providing veteran stability for the bullpen.

And they didn't hesitate looking for proven late-inning relievers.

After negotiations that went nowhere in attempt to retain 2017 closer Greg Holland, the Rockies took that money and signed Wade Davis to a three-year, $52 million deal that has the highest annual average value ever given a reliever.

And they invested three-year, $27 million contracts each in retaining left-handed set-up reliever Jake McGee, and in luring right-handed set up reliever Bryan Shaw. 

Those three, along with holdovers, and the recent addition of Seung Hwan Oh gives the Rockies a current bullpen (including Michael Dunn on the disabled list) with a 2018 combined payroll of $48,787,500.

Bullpen Investment

Reliever 2018 Salary Contract Status
Wade Davis $16 million 1st year, 3-year, $52 million
Bryan Shaw $7.5 million 1st year, 3-year, $27 million
Jake McGee $7 million 1st year, 3-year, $27 million
y-Michael Dunn $7 million 2nd yar, 3-year, $19 million
Adam Ottavino $7 million 3rd year, 3-year, $10.4 million
Seung Hwan Oh x-$667,000 2019 option $2.5 million/$25,000 buyout
Chris Rusin $1.2875 million Aribtration eligible
Scott Oberg $555,000 Pre-arbitration
Harrison Musgrave $545,000 Pre-arbitration
Total $48,787,500 Future Oligations
x-pro-rated portion of $2 million
y-on disabled list

The results, however, have not been what the Rockies anticipated. The 5.22 ERA is not only the highest in the NL this season, but would be the fifth highest in franchise history if the season ended Thursday. On the plus side for the Rockies is despite the struggles, they are only 3 1/2 games back in both the NL West and NL Wild-Card races with 47 games remaining in the regular season. If they can rekindle that July excitement. ...

But if they continue to let games get away in late innings. ... 

The Struggles of 2018

Team W L Pct ERA Season ERA
D-backs 18 22 0.45 3.06 1999 5.72
Cubs 25 13 0.658 3.38 2004 5.53
Padres 19 21 0.475 3.46 1996 5.45
Giants 25 18 0.581 3.57 1993 5.36
Nationals 17 16 0.515 3.67 2018 5.22
Brewers 25 18 0.581 3.75 2002 5.16
Dodgers 25 23 0.521 3.8 2016 5.1
Phillies 20 17 0.541 3.84 1994 4.94
Reds 19 17 0.528 4.02 2001 4.9
Pirates 18 15 0.545 4.16 2005 4.83
Braves 18 19 0.486 4.19
Cardinals 20 21 0.488 4.32
Mets 19 25 0.432 4.85
Marlins 22 23 0.489 5.19
Rockies 19 24 0.442 5.22

Source: Stats, Inc.

The most consistent reliever has been Adam Ottavino, and he is coming off the worst season of his career. Most likely, had he not been guaranteed a $7 million salary for 2018, he would have been allowed to become a free agent last winter. Ottavino, however, was focused during the off-season to be in position to reaffirm his ability this summer, and he has done that. That, however, has not offset the struggles of others.

Resume of a Bullpen: 2018

Player W L SvOP G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA
x-Sam Howard 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
x-Yency Almonte 0 0 0 7 9 8 3 1 0 2 7 1
Adam Ottavino 4 2 4-7 52 55.1 29 13 10 3 23 81 1.63
Seunghwan Oh 0 0 1-2 8 7.2 6 2 2 1 3 5 2.35
Scott Oberg 7 0 0-4 33 34 32 13 12 3 10 28 3.18
Harrison Musgrave 1 3 0 22 31.1 23 16 16 4 16 22 4.6
Wade Davis 1 6 32-38 51 47.1 36 30 29 8 24 53 5.51
dl-Antonio Senzatela 2 1 0 10 17.1 23 13 12 2 6 14 6.23
dl-Bryan Shaw 3 5 0-4 50 44.2 59 38 32 8 23 46 6.45
Jake McGee 1 4 1-3 45 38 45 30 28 8 11 38 6.63
Chris Rusin 0 2 0-1 35 39.2 42 33 30 7 20 34 6.81
Brooks Pounders 0 1 0-1 14 15.1 25 13 13 3 2 17 7.63
Mike Dunn 0 0 0 25 17 22 17 17 1 18 12 9
x-Jeff Hoffman 0 0 0 5 5.1 7 6 6 0 6 3 10.13
x-Jerry Vasto 0 0 0 1 0.2 3 3 3 0 1 1 40.5

Source: Stats, Inc. x-assigned to Albuquerque dl-on disabled list

Davis has dealt with more good times than bad, but in the six blown saves and two losses when he came into a tie game it has been a struggle. His season ERA of 5.15 is 3.86 higher than the previous seasons of his career as a reliever combined. 

Wading Into Troubled Waters

Wade Davis W L SV SVO ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO
Games Rockies Lost 0 6 0 5 29.57 7 19 23 23 6 8 8
Games Rockies Won 1 0 32 33 1.34 40.1 17 7 6 0 16 45
Season Total 1 6 32 38 5.51 47.1 36 30 29 6 24 53

Source: Stats, Inc.

And then there is Bryan Shaw, who over the last five years with the Indians was one of the most consistent set-up men in baseball. He made 70-plus appearances each season in Cleveland, and never had an ERA higher than 3.52.

Shaw's Struggles Don't Compute

Year Team W L SV SVO G INN H R ER HR BB SO ERA
2013 Cle 7 3 1 5 70 75.0 60 31 27 4 28 73 3.24
2014 Cle 5 5 2 9 80 76.1 61 26 22 6 22 64 2.59
2015 Cle 3 3 2 6 74 64.0 59 24 21 8 19 54 2.95
2016 Cle 2 5 1 4 75 66.2 56 26 24 8 28 69 3.24
2017 Cle 4 6 3 6 79 76.2 71 36 30 5 22 73 3.52
Totals Cle 21 22 9 30 378 358.2 307 143 124 31 119 333 3.45
2018 Col 3 5 0 4 50 44.2 59 38 32 8 23 46 6.45

Source: Stats, Inc.

Tracy RingolsbyComment