The Colorado Rockies found themselves in the National League Wild Card game in 2017, losing to the Diamondbacks. The players looked at the season as a huge step forward for a young club. With young starters like Jon Gray, Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson carrying the load of the rotation as well as a offense packed with talent the Rockies had a clear hole to fill in the back end of the bullpen. They needed depth and a new closer, enter Wade Davis. Davis and Colorado agreed to a three-year, $52 million contract. The deal included a four-year vesting option that could take the total value up to $66 million if he finishes 30 or more games in the 2020 season. The former Royal and Cub signed a historic contract pundits of the deal called it a classic “Coors overpay”. Fans of the contract saw the final piece of a potential championship puzzle.
Davis joined free agent signee former Indian Bryan Shaw (3year, $27million) and the resigning of Jake McGee (3year, $27million). Along with the rebranded and dominating Adam Ottavino the Rockies thought they had shaped a bullpen that would be able to handle the pressures of Coors Field. Unfortunately for Colorado their bullpen has been more rocky then the mountains they were named after.
If you exclude Ottavino the other top five Rockies bullpen arms based on usage:
Bryan Shaw 39 games, 7.08ERA, -1.5 WAR
Jake McGee 30 games, 5.40ERA, -0.1 WAR
Chris Rusin 23 games, 7.45ERA, -0.6 WAR
Mike Dunn 23 games, 9.00ERA, -0.5 WAR
Wade Davis 30 games, 4.55ERA, 0.3 WAR
Five players making a combined $130 million in contracted salary have combined to make the worst bullpen in the entire league with a combined ERA of 5.75. Davis leads the league in blown saves followed directly behind him is Bryan Shaw, both have 4 blown saves for a team that is still looking to fight their way into a playoff spot. Davis has also been uncharacteristically wild during the first two months of the season, sporting a 33.6 percent Zone% that is the second-lowest among qualified relievers.
The Rockies cannot blame the entirety of their troubles on their bullpen. The starting rotation hasn’t been top level and the offense has been nearly non-existent at times during the season. The Dodgers have had early season struggles and the Diamondbacks have been falling off from their red hot start. The Rockies are still in the mix for the National League West despite being four games under .500. Colorado will need a drastic turn around from their bullpen to have a chance to make up ground with in the division.
The Nationals made the first move to improve themselves before the All-Star break acquiring Royals Closer Kelvin Herrara. With some much money locked up in their current relievers its seems unlikely the Rockies will be able to go outside the organization for help. They will have to rely on their players to overcome their problems. There is hope despite recent struggles Wade Davis has had his moments including 18-20 saves before June as well as holding hitters to a .274 Xwoba at dreaded Coors field. Adam Ottovino has established himself as a dominate reliever. Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee are not young players, you would have to believe that they will find a way to figure out what is going wrong.
The NL West has done one of the worst things they can possibly do, allow a team that has underperforming talent stick around. If the Rockies find a way to fix their bullpen they will leave their mark on the National League soon.