We are now 11 games into the 2017 MLB season which means it is the perfect time to make grand projections on a small sample size. So let me the first to talk about the opportunity for the Colorado Rockies in 2017.
A major point to look at for their success (only that same overpowering offense we’ve come to expect from the tenants on Blake Street in Denver…right?) is new closer Greg Holland. The same Greg Holland who saved 47 and 46 games in 2013 and 2014 leading the Royals back to prominence and into the World Series as the biggest of the three-headed bullpen snake along with Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera before disappearing with injuries.
Holland missed the second half of their World Series winning 2015 season before missing all of last season. This year he is back and closing for one of the toughest pitching park in all of baseball. In 6 appearances this year he has 6 saves with 3 walks, 8 K’s, and just 2 hits allowed(in his most recent outing).
Holland’s closer ascension was quick – he had a cup of coffee (didn’t go so well) in 2010 before a good 2011 where he pitched to a 1.80 ERA in 60 innings and 4 saves. He saw more high leverage situations in 2012 where he got 16 saves before those two dominant seasons mentioned earlier. His ERA was 1.21 and 1.44 respectively in those seasons.
In 2013 he struck out 103 in just 67 innings. As soon as it was built – he seemed to nearly lose it due to injury. The Royals moved on, and it was Wade Davis he seamlessly moved into the closer role for the next year and a half.
How hard is it to close in Colorado? The all time saves leader is Jose Jimenez in 2002 with 41. Second on the list is Shawn Chacon who saved 35 in 2004 – in 44 opportunities and an ERA of 7.11!
The Rockies are 6-4 on the season – this while being 25th in runs scored on the season. The Rockies?
Holland would be a long shot to lead the league in saves, but maybe, just maybe, the Rockies have changed things around and figured out how to win at Coors Field. New Rockies manager Bud Black built a great reputation in San Diego as finding good pitching performances where no one else saw them coming? Could he be bringing that to Denver?
Every year someone starts out hot (see Rhodes, Tuffy) and grand projections are made that never pan out. Other times it does work out. The Rockies don’t have to look too far to remember that story from the start of 2016 when their rookie shortstop set homer records for most consecutive games with one at the start of a career (four), most in first four contests (six) and most in first six games (seven). Just look to Trevor.