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MILWAUKEE – The Colorado Rockies just announced their 25-man roster for the National League Division series and there are a few notable names not on the list.
While it is easy to understand and justify why each of these players did not make the cut, it is still worth reflecting on how crazy it is that the Rockies got to this point despite their struggles and have made the tough decision to move forward, for now, without them.
First is Opening Day starter Jon Gray who has had as tumultuous a season as anyone in the National League. The Rockies were expecting big things from him after his second half in 2017 was arguably the primary reason they managed to reach the postseason. He was as good as anyone during that stretch but famously collapsed in the Wild Card game and has since begun to develop a reputation for failing in big games.
He didn’t help this with two of his last three performances, getting knocked around by the Dodgers in Los Angeles and by the Nationals in Denver, a game that may have cost the Rockies their first-ever division title.
Gray was briefly sent down to Triple-A to address some issues just before the All-Star break and came back with a vengeance but couldn’t sustain the momentum, posting a career-worst 5.12 ERA by season’s end.
Also not on the roster are veteran relievers Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw both of whom, like Gray, were expected to be major values to the club this season.
After a tough and injury-plagued debut season for Colorado in 2016, McGee came back in a big way in 2017, posting some of the best numbers of any set-up man in baseball. But after signing a three-year deal worth $27 million, he just hasn’t been the same. Gradually falling down the bullpen depth chart as he struggled with his velocity and command, McGee became a liability to have on the plus-side late in games.
He never has had especially great numbers against lefties which made it difficult for him to find another role. His 6.49 season ERA reflected the consistency with which he gave up hard contact all year.
Bryan Shaw had probably the most famous implosion of anyone on the Rockies’ roster. Also signing for three years and $27 million, the former Cleveland Indian was seen as one of the most reliable relievers in the game until putting on the purple jersey.
His propensity for instigating epic bullpen collapses was the hallmark of the first half of the Rockies season, a time in which they could have run away with the division if not for blowing so many games late. His 5.93 ERA actually looks a little better than the season he had as he was limited to the lowest leverage situations in the latter part of the season.
The one major element that made replacing these two relievers easier than it might have been, is the emergence of righty Scott Oberg who struck out the side in the bottom of the 13th in the Wild Card game to get his team to this moment. He has been absolutely stupendous in the final months finishing the year with a 2.45 ERA and stabilizing the bullpen.
The acquisition of Seunghwan Oh from Toronto and a few reliable innings from 29-year-old rookie DJ Johnson meant that the Rockies found the guys they needed for this series.
It would have come as a pretty massive surprise to anyone following the Rockies to see these three names left off the list after bad seasons… and Colorado still is still somehow in the NLDS.
All three guys are still expected to be big parts of the Rockies 2019 team. Every season is different. Adam Ottavino was our most recent teacher of that lesson.
But for now, they will have to be spectators like the rest of us, watching their teammates try to make a little history.