The Rockies’ Bullpen: Decent Options for Holds Leaguers

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

The Colorado Rockies’ bullpen is coming off a 2014 season in which they finished last in the league in saves (24), fielding independent pitching (4.24) and surrendered the most home runs (62), but somehow managed to scrape together 1.5 WAR. To be fair though, the Rockies also finished with the fewest blown saves in baseball (26), so finishing last in the league in save totals isn’t entirely due to their inability to convert, it probably has more to do with the lack of opportunities. For those fake baseballers in holds or solds (holds + saves) leagues, you may want to put the two setup men listed below on your short list of relievers to target.

The Closer:

LaTroy Hawkins

Forty-two year-old LaTroy Hawkins will be on the mound again in 2015 for his 21st season as a professional, but it sounds like the crafty veteran will be hanging it up at the end of the year. Hawkins notched 23 of the Rockies’ 24 saves last season to go along with a 3.31 ERA (3.39 FIP) and an 8.4% K-BB%. Although Hawkins fails to possess the strikeout ability many look for from their closers, he’ll likely be on the mound in the ninth-inning to collect saves, won’t destroy your ratios and should come extremely cheap on draft day.

The Setup Men:

Rex Brothers
Adam Ottavino

Right-hander Adam Ottavino went 1-4 with a 3.60 ERA (3.10 FIP) and a 1.28 WHIP in 75 trips to the bump in ‘14, but he racked up a save, 26 holds and posted a fine 19.9% K-BB% in that same time. Ottavino fared best against right-handed batters who slashed just .234/.296/.349 with a .289 wOBA against him whereas lefties hit to the tune of a .338/.383/.560 triple slash with a .506 wOBA off Ottavino. The splits aren’t all that pretty, but that doesn’t mean Ottavino is happy with them. In fact, he’s looking to improve them. Splits aside, he’s a good bet to get a chunk of whiffs and holds again in ‘15.

The southpaw of the duo is Rex Brothers. Many within the industry considered Brothers an option to assume the closers role if and when LaTroy Hawkins faltered or simply left the game. But Brothers struggled mightily last year. He went 4-6 with a 5.59 ERA (4.98 FIP), a 1.85 WHIP and a 5.9% K-BB% — the lowest mark of his career. Brothers saw a slight dip in velocity on both his fastball and changeup as well as a dip in SwStr% to 10.8% from 12.6% the previous season. Some bad luck on on balls in play (.341) and HR/FB (13.2%) could factor in to some of his struggles, but surely not all of it.

The Rest:

Tommy Kahnle
John Axford
Boone Logan
David Hale

Tommy Kahnle picked up eight holds with an 11.2% K-BB% in 68.2 innings on the hill. Kahnle’s ratios weren’t fantastic (4.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), but if you’re in a super-deep league, scratching and clawing for holds, he could be an option for your squad without risking an implosion of your team’s ratios. John Axford is an interesting veteran presence in the backend of this bullpen, should he make the team out of Spring Training. He’s a groundball guy (career 48% GB%) who can induce some strikeouts (career 27.6% K%), but needs to limit the free passes (career 11.2% BB%)if he wants to be effective. Boone Logan is another lefty in the bullpen that can earn some strikeouts and is traditionally a ground ball guy, but had some bad luck on HR/FB (35.3%) last season. David Hale came over from the Atlanta Braves this offseason and could serve as the team’s long reliever out of the pen.

In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

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Jairo Diaz gonna make the team?