The Dodgers did What with Yency Almonte?
Since his draft on May 12, Almonte has posted a big league ERA of 1.13. He’s only allowed two runs in 16 innings.
Nick Groke and Fabian Ardaya spoke about Almonte earlier this month and it’s no surprise that something is being done in LA just by looking at the pitch data.
The Groke and Ardaya play documents Almonte’s changes in much more detail; In terms of their hard work, this article is intended to serve as a follow-up to other guns with similar variances from Colorado over the past five years. Read Groke and Ardaya’s article for all the details on Almonte.
Here we are:
The Rockies are working with a challenged bullpen for the rest of the season considering:
1. Tyler Kinley is likely out for the year.
2. Colorado used the fewest volunteers of any team. (Burnout could be real.)
3. The Albuquerque Isotopes have the highest ERA of any Triple-A team (6.82).
Daniel Bard (1.98 ERA) and Alex Colomé (2.13) have continued to serve as late-inning anchors, but a lone assist like today’s Almonte could do wonders for a staff that has little margin for error.
There are a number of recently departed Rockies who have donned new uniforms over the past five years. With an exhausted core of helpers for 2022, which of these defunct weapons would best serve the current bullpen in its exhausted state?
Perhaps more urgently, how have they evolved since leaving Colorado?
Case study: Adam Ottavino
Ottavino rebuilt himself in an empty New York City store after the 2017 season, so it’s difficult to credit any organization with his resurgence without giving Ottavino much of the credit himself.
The Rockies saw the fruits of his rebranding labors, much to the tune of raised boards, declining fastball stakes, and an ERA that was halved from 2017-2018.
Ottavino currently holds a 2.92 ERA for the Mets, the lowest since his freshman year as a Yankee (1.90, 2019). His fastball involvement returned to pre-2018 levels after the shortened 2020 season, and he’s settled well this year after a 4.21 ERA with the Red Sox in 2021.
He has donned three different uniforms in the past three years. For an arm that’s pretty much revived his career on his own, we’d carelessly suggest he’s had an Almonte-like breakthrough thanks to some organization.
Case study: Jake McGee
Groke and Ardaya discuss McGee’s story alongside Almonte; This case study is probably the closest, but it’s not as clear as one might think.
McGee’s playing field profiles haven’t changed much from his time with the Rockies to the Dodgers. His fastball axis and speed were nearly identical. The Dodgers had him working heaters at a career-high rate, apparently enough to generate tremendous value while the Rockies paid him to play versus She. (If only it were always that easy: When in doubt, 95% fastballs.)
A 2020 World Series championship was a major breakthrough for an arm brought out by the Rockies just days before the start of the 2020 season. McGee made 31 saves for the Giants last year, but the now 35-year-old has a 5.60 ERA this year (17th). 2⁄3 IP) and had some back problems.
Case study: Bryan Shaw
Another member of the 2017-born “Super Bullpen” is Cleveland native Bryan Shaw, an arm whom the Rockies harshly welcomed back to Coors Field last week.
A 12-year sample size above has a big change in 2020, but Shaw only threw six innings that year (a year with Seattle, 18.00 ERA).
His return to Cleveland was a sort of return to his old identity. Shaw led MLB with 81 pitching appearances, which he did in his last season before moving to Colorado (2017, 79).
This career rebirth might be more focused on finding his old comforts — a la Jhouly’s Chacín in 2021 — and with an ERA in the threes for 2021 and 2022, Shaw is stepping in the same territory as he did in his first five-year Cleveland stint. Pitch data isn’t available for baseball savant prior to 2020, but Shaw’s career mix alone might suggest he’s been fairly consistent with how he throws his pitches.
Case study: Wade Davis
A streak of three consecutive All-Star appearances ended when Wade Davis first arrived in Colorado. A look at his baseball reference page will show you Davis’ sinking in Colorado, ending in 2020.
Davis signed a minor league contract with the Royals in 2021, the club with which he found overwhelming success and World Series success. He made Pitch 42 2⁄3 innings with the big league club in 2021, but his 6.75 ERA wasn’t enough to keep him. Davis has not pitched a big league pitch since.
Davis hasn’t had a rebirth like Almonte since leaving Kansas City either, but at 36 it’s harder for a club to give someone with no minor league options remaining a chance.
Case study: Greg Holland
Here’s an emergency worker who’s been gone for five years; Greg Holland led the NL in saves in his only season with the Rockies (2017; 41, 57.1 IP), and the last of his three All-Star appearances came in a Colorado uniform.
Holland has a 7.71 ERA with Rangers this year (4th 2⁄3 IP) and the small sample is enough to disregard the final data inputs in the graph above. The steady increase in sliders and the decline in fastballs may be a product of declining rate with age, but there are no glaring examples of his court selections to suggest he’s made an Almonte-like breakthrough after Colorado.
It’s pretty clear to see that the Dodgers developed Almonte in a way that the Rockies didn’t. This does not mean that a similar story has presented itself for other recently hauled guns, but it also does not mean that a case should be overlooked.
The art of pitching for a long career requires adjustments. This goes without saying, of course, but the art of reinvention allows pitchers to be a different animal when they need to revive their careers. A player’s adjustments are enough to start a conversation, and while other arms aren’t as noticeably altered, it doesn’t detract from the adjustments successfully implemented.
Baseball phenom Jackson Holliday pays tribute to his father Matt on and off the Diamond | The Denver Post ($)
We’re less than a month away from the 2022 MLB Draft, and a household name is named as the likely top 5 pick. Jackson Holliday, the son of Rockies legend Matt Holliday, caused a stir at Stillwater High School in Oklahoma with a projectable frame and a standout performance. The school itself is just a few blocks from Oklahoma State University, where Matt Holliday trains alongside his brother Josh, the head coach.
The Rockies are picking 10th overall this year, which may be outside of Jackson’s prediction, but Zac Veen was also outside of projection range in 2020. For the second straight season, the MLB Draft will be held during All-Star Week.
Colorado Rockies Podcast: The Keys Between Now and the All-Star Break | Rox stack
Our friend Kevin Henry of Rox Pile talks about what it takes to get the Rockies back to .500 along with the tough road that lies ahead with competitive opponents at the end of June. He points out that the Rockies have never done particularly well at Marlins Park and how the upcoming series against the first-seeded Twins and Dodgers may further hint at what the Rockies have in store before the close.
On the farm
Monday, May 30: League-wide day off for all minor league affiliates
New series starting today:
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (COL) at Las Vegas Aviators (OAK)
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (COL) at Somerset Patriots (NYY)
High-A: Everett Aquasox (SEA) at Spokane Indians (COL)
Low-A: Modesto Nuts (SEA) at Fresno Grizzlies (COL)
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