Shaw Hears the Boos, Shares Frustrations, Looks for Solutions
Bryan Shaw has had his struggles at times in more than six years in the big leagues.
But this year is different. Never has he been faced with an elongated struggle that on Saturday night led to Shaw giving up six runs in the eighth inning of the Rockies of what saw a Rockies lead he inherited turned into a 12-7 loss to the D-Backs.
He signed with the Rockies as a free-agent in the off-season with the idea that he would be a part of a lights-out bullpen. Instead, the relievers have combined for a 5.13 ERA, 14th in the NL, ahead of only the Marlins (5.41).
They are tied with the Tigers for the MLB lead with 13 blown saves.
The latest came on Saturday when Shaw couldn’t protect a 7-6 lead.
Yes, five of those runs were unearned, and that is what eats at Shaw.
It was a double-error committed by Shaw, who first bobbled a nubber off the bat of Ketel Marte, blowing the chances to turn a double play, and then threw the ball well over the head of first baseman Ian Desmond, allowing John Ryan Murphy to score the game-tying run from first base, and Marte to reach third.
By the time the inning had come to an end, the Diamondbacks had taken the 12-7 lead that turned into the final score. Shaw had given up six runs on four hits, two walks and the two errors, which is what ate at him.
“The hits were whatever,” he said. “It was the error. We turned that double play. … If I field that, and throw to second it’s a double play. I strike out the next guy (Jon Jay) and (the inning is over).”
He did strike out Jay, but the inning wasn’t over. What happened next was an intentional walk to Paul Goldschmidt and a run-scoring single by Jake Lamb. After Daniel Descalso struck out, Lamb stole second, and David Peralta singled both home.
Jarrod Dyson drew a walk, and Nick Ahmed doubled both runners home. Finally, Shaw was relieved by Brad Pounders, the inning ending when Murphy, who got it all started, popped up.
If only Shaw could be assured that the struggle is over.
Shaw, after all, is a late-inning reliever who has been one of the most consistent in the game. He made more than 70 appearances in each of the last five years with the Indians. He averaged 69 2/3 innings a season, allowed less than one hit per inning, and put together a composite 3.17 ERA.
That’s the type of consistency that prompted the Rockies to sign Shaw to a three-year, $27 million deal in December, looking for him to be the right-handed compliment to lefty Jake McGee to get the game to closer Wade Davis.
Oh, he has had games he’d like to forget in seasons past, but not like this year. In addition to allowing six runs in an inning on Saturday, earlier this season he had an appearance he which he gave up five runs, and four appearances in which he allowed three runs. In the last four years, combined, he had only six appearances in which he gave up three or more runs, including a previous career high five-run struggle in 2016.
That, however, is history. That does not make the current events easier to deal with.
Even with five of the six runs on Saturday unearned because of Shaw’s two errors, he has a 7.03 ERA in his 35 appearances, and has allowed 60 base runners in 32 innings – 44 hits and 16 walks.
“Obviously it has been frustrating, especially a game like (Saturday),” said Shaw. “I field the ball and it’s a different inning.”
Shaw fields the ball and the Coors Field crowd is cheering him, instead of a steady booing that grew louder with each pitch he threw in the eighth inning Saturday.
“The fans hopefully stay behind us through it all, and we come back and do what we hoped to do, and turn the boos around,” said Shaw.
Shaw knows, however, turning the boos around will depend on the Rockies turning their recent struggles around. On Tuesday night they were in first place in the division. Then came a late-inning blown lead at Cincinnati before a return to Coors Field and back-to-back losses at Coors Field.
On Sunday morning they woke up with a 32-32 record, sitting at .500 for the first time since April 30.