A home stand of six games convinced Greg Holland the new closer for the Colorado Rockies that he was playing in conditions that were not found anywhere other than at Coors Field and he would have to adjust to those conditions.
Holland played all of his first six MLB seasons with the Kansas City Royals. He said that you must keep a good diet and remain hydrated so you do not become run down.
Avoiding that will be an important key for Colorado’s new bullpen, which was the worst last season in the majors but has been surprisingly successful starting the 2017 season.
On Sunday, Holland threw just five pitches to the San Francisco Giants in the ninth to preserve Colorado’s 4-3 win.
Last season, the Rockies bullpen blew 28 saves and had a combined ERA of 5.13. This season after 14 games, the relievers are 4-0, with an ERA of 2.68 and 59 strikeouts, which is No. 2 in baseball. Hitters are batting just .194 against the Rockies bullpen.
The pen’s turnaround in part is due to Colorado’s acquisition in the offseason of Holland, who has saved each of the seven games he has appeared in thus far and to date has not given up a run. Another acquisition that has helped to start the 2017 season is Mike Dunn. The southpaw reliever has not given up a run in his 7 1/3 innings and he struck out both batters he faced Sunday.
Colorado Manager Bud Black said the bullpen has both right- and left-handed weapons to choose from. Black said we have relievers that can strike batters out and both Holland and Dunn have made a big impact on the overall mentality of the bullpen.
Other factors have come into play also. Adam Ottavino the team’s setup man has been available. In 2015, he had Tommy John surgery. Jake McGee has also recovered completely from problems with his knee.
Overall there is much more depth in the pen than in past years, with three lefthanders and a young hard thrower in Carlos Estevez a right-hander, who last season in his rookie season saved 11 games.
The improvement to the Colorado bullpen has many pundits believing that with the Rockies already strong offense, dependable fielding and young starting pitchers, the team is ready to make a move this season and contend for National League West supremacy with perennial leaders the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.