Rockies’ continuing bullpen problems threatening their postseason hopes

ST. LOUIS — The Rockies invested heavily in their bullpen during the offseason, trying to avoid late-game collapses that could crush the team’s chances of making the playoffs.

Yet as the Rockies enter the final third of the season, the bullpen remains the club’s overriding, unsolved issue. The just-completed series against the Cardinals, in which the Rockies lost three of four games, offered more proof.  Colorado lost two games in agonizing, walk-off fashion, including Thursday’s 3-2 decision.

Monday night, the Rockies lost 5-4 when Marcell Ozuna hit left-hander Jake McGee‘s fastball 429 feet into the left-field seats for a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. Thursday afternoon, Jose Martinez roped a one-out, two-run, walk-off single off closer Wade Davis to win it for St. Louis.

Davis still believes in the bullpen, even though its ERA stands at 5.17, the second highest in the majors (only Kansas City’s 5.33 mark is worse).

“We’re good, we have a lot of talent,” he said after Thursday’s loss. “It didn’t work out today, but we have to come back tomorrow and then win the series against Milwaukee.”

Still, the numbers are troubling, and history is not on Colorado’s side.

The Rockies have made the postseason four times in their history, and each time, they employed a bullpen with an ERA well below 5.00: In 1995, it was 4.64; 2007, 3.85; 2009, 4.49; 2017, 4.40.

In close games, down the stretch, the Rockies must be able to shut down the opposition. Right now, that’s an iffy proposition.

When asked about the state of his bullpen manager Bud Black said: “It’s fine, overall. We have to continue to work with these guys all of the time and get them to where the group is pitching well. That’s the goal.”

Currently the two most trusted relievers in Black’s bullpen are right-hander Adam Ottavino (1.38 ERA) and newcomer Seunghwan Oh, who’s not given up a run in four appearances since being traded to Colorado from Toronto last week. There are no plans, by the way, for Ottavino to supplant Davis as the closer.

“‘Otto’ is in a good spot, Oh’s doing well and (Scott) Oberg seems to be in a nice spot, and Wade’s a pro,” Black said, adding that the remainder of the bullpen must contribute more going forward.

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