The Colorado Rockies have invested $45.8 into their bullpen million for the 2018 season, resulting in the most expensive pen in the history of Major League Baseball. The Rockies, who play in a notorious hitters park in Coors Field, landed big free agents in Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw. Colorado also was able to resign set-up man Jake McGee.
Wade Davis comes over from the Chicago Cubs where he posted a 2.30 ERA and 32 saves in 2017. Davis, who coincidentally took over for Greg Holland in Kansas City several years ago, inherits high expectations with Holland saving 41 of the Rockies 87 wins in 2017. While Holland’s ERA is expected to be a tick higher pitching at Coors Field, Rockies fans and ownership will require tremendous performance pitching on a three year deal worth $52 million. Davis has been one of the most dominant closing pitchers in the game the past several years, his best performance coming in 2015 where he posted a record-low 0.94 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched.
The next big signing comes in set-up man Bryan Shaw, who is expected to compete for the 8th inning job with Jake McGee throughout Spring Training. Shaw signed with the Rockies after posting a 3.45 ERA in 76.2 innings pitched with the Cleveland Indians in 2017. Colorado also locked Shaw up for three years, and are scheduled to pay him $27 million over the course of that span.
The Rockies matched Shaw’s deal with Jake Mcgee, who also signed a three year, $27 million deal. McGee had similar numbers to Shaw, posting a 3.61 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched during 2017. McGee, who throws a 95+ MPH fastball as a lefty, has proven he can perform at Coors Field, and currently is expected to handle the 8th inning.
The projected progression for manager Bud Black’s average game will be Shaw in the 7th, McGee in the 8th, and Davis to close it out. However, with proven relievers such as Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino also at Black’s disposal, Colorado figures to rarely be short of options coming out of the pen.
Perhaps more important that any factor of the two big free agent signings of Davis and Shaw is their postseason experience. Both players come over from prolific franchises in recent years in the Cubs and the Indians, and are comfortable pitching in big games in chase of a pennant. With Davis’ 1.40 career postseason ERA and Shaw’s 2.45 career postseason mark, they have proven they can step up in the big moments.
Bud Black seems to have ushered in a winning culture in Colorado, making the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Rockies lost to the Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card game in 2017, and hope to push deeper into the playoffs in 2018. A deep and experienced bullpen can only help.