One area the Rockies showed to be competent in was putting together a bullpen that gets the job done. Here’s a look at what we have to work with in 2012:
Matt Belisle (10-4, 3.25 ERA in 72 innings) — The horse of the pen. Belisle is the man who carries the starters when they implode on the mound. He is worth almost every cent that is paid to him ($3.75 mil in 2012), regardless of bad outings and ranking third for blown saves in the NL. Belisle’s numbers inflated this season despite receiving less work. He is dependable more often than not and should have a better season, hopefully, in 2012.
Josh Roenicke (3.78 ERA in 16.2 innings) — The waiver claim from Toronto was a quiet acquisition that worked out well for the club. He faced 68 batters and only allowed seven of them to score on 14 hits. I would like to see more of him out of the bullpen.
Rex Brothers (2.88 ERA against 172 batters) — Proud owner of one save in six games finished has been a bright spot in the pantheon of quality call ups last season. Cutting down 59 of 172 faced is one way to maintain the position of “dependable lefty” in the bullpen.
Edgmer Escalona (1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings) — Escalona is proving the value of the Latin player development system. Receiving considerably more work out of the pen this year, Escalona has a good chance to spend the season at Coors Field again. His ERA and hits allowed will determine his ability to standout in a bullpen full of right arms.
Matt Reynolds (3.33 ERA in 50.4 innings) — Another product of the Rockies minor-league affiliates, Reynolds isn’t a bad lefty. As a dependable hold producer, his cheap contract will keep him as an option against right-handed batters (.217 against him).
Matt Lindstrom (2-2, 2 Saves, 3.00 ERA in 54 innings) — My favorite guy in the bullpen, hands down. Lindstrom is a beast with a right arm. He has been a key addition since being acquired from Houston, and even with a $3 million-plus due next season, he is worth keeping due to the value of his work on the mound. The guy tosses strikes and is steady at 60 feet and six inches out.
Rafael Betancourt (2-0, 8 Saves, 2.89 ERA in 62.1 innings) — His agonizingly slow wind-up is only worth the frustration because he throws darts. Striking out 30 percent of those he faces is an asset to the team and a reason why he should be named the closer on the opening-day roster.
Huston Street (1-4, 29 Saves, 3.86 ERA in 62 appearances) — While tying for fifth in NL Saves, he is a heart attack on the mound. His finesse slider is nice to watch, but he leaves too many pitches hanging in the strike zone. This is part of the reason – aside from injury – why he is currently trade bait and Betancourt has displaced him as closer.
Look for Esmil Rogers to hang around in the bullpen and slide into the starting rotation in the event of injuries, same for Alex White, if he can make it up from triple-A where he will most likely start the season.
The bullpen managed to find its way after a rocky start in 2011 and has assembled itself as one of the best compilation of throwers that can grind. The biggest problem for them is the starting rotation. The starters left plenty of innings to be picked up after and the bullpen created some messy ones themselves.
Street is drawing interest form the Blue Jays, according the Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun. A deal with Toronto is not likely to get done anytime soon for the 28-year-old as the market is currently flooded with better quality closers. The Jays could go in the direction of Jonathan Broxton.
Jeff Francis may be interested in returning. I don’t like this idea. There is a reason he isn’t with the team anymore. Exploring the idea isn’t worth the time.
LaTroy Hawkins is being looked at by the Rox in what would be a return to the clubhouse. At 38, he is still serviceable, but I don’t see the value as the bullpen is full of right-handed arms, and has Betancourt as closer with Brothers a possible replacement.