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Chris Rusin won't let you down

Drew Creasman Avatar
June 13, 2017


DENVER — Chris Rusin‘s job is to not lose.

That’s a tough gig. It’s like being a musician in a restaurant. The audience didn’t really come to see you specifically, but they are happy you’re there if you do a good job and can be made miserable if you don’t. For the most part, it’s just your job to not screw anything up, and in some cases to not even be noticed. Don’t let anyone down.

This is why in our one-on-one conversation with the reliever who has been positively vital to the Rockies success this season, BSN Denver started by pointing out the perfection of the piece of music Rusin chooses to warm up to. The Chainsmokers ft. Daya “Don’t Let Me Down” couldn’t be more appropriate.

“I like the song in general,” Rusin told us. “That kind of helps … the lyrics help with what I’m trying to do on the mound. I don’t know why I picked the song, I liked the beat, but I in the back of my mind use that a little bit to … don’t let anybody down,” he says with a smile. “Just give it your all.”

Rusin has been asked to not let the team down in multiple ways this season. He’s been used to get one out late in a tied game with runners on base, and has also (on multiple occasions) had to pitch for several innings after a starter came out early with either an injury (Jon Gray) or an unusually short outing (German Marquez). He is a swiss-army reliever and says the key is to hardly consider the situation at all.

“One out at a time,” he cautions. “Take each situation the same but don’t try to amp up if a situation is an important one, just pretend all the situations are important and you just want to get outs as quickly as possible. And sometimes if you’re efficient enough, you get two innings, if you’re just in there to get two batters … try to keep your pitch count down so you’re available the next day. Just try to be as efficient as possible.”

The song goes on to elaborate “I hope you’ll be here when I need you the most.” And Chris Rusin has. At 35 innings, he has been used more than any other member of the bullpen and still has more innings than starter Jeff Hoffman over his four starts.

Over that time, Rusin has picked up three wins and a save, and posted a minuscule 2.31 ERA. He has been fantastic in high-leverage situations going back to the beginning of the 2016 season as evidenced by his 2.26 WPA and 10.99 RE24. In other words, no matter what stat you look at and no matter the situation, Chris Rusin has done everything well the last two years. If he were a closer or a starter, his numbers might have some folks seriously considering him as an All-Star. That’s a tough road to travel for a middle reliever, but there is no doubt that he has been one of the most important pieces on a team that still finds themselves in first place on June 13.

For Rusin, it’s all been about the team effort from everyone in the Rockies bullpen this season.

“It’s awesome,” he says. “Everyone has kind of the same mentality. They’re trying to be as efficient as possible and get the ball to the next guy. It’s all about getting the ball to [Greg] Holland and the back end of the bullpen and those guys have been doing a great job.”

They aren’t the only ones. All-Star spots are reserved for those with traditionally more demanding jobs. Though, “just don’t screw this up and have no real chance for glory” might be about as tough a job description as you can find in professional sports. Rusin has been an All-Star for his teammates and especially his manager. The Rockies last loss in Chicago shows exactly the difference between having him available and not.

He doesn’t start or finish games. He’s just the most important bridge between the best group of starting pitchers in franchise history and the most dominant backend of the bullpen Colorado has ever seen.

You don’t always know exactly when you will need him. You don’t always feel 100 percent confident that he can dominate the opposition. You can’t expect him to win games for you. But you can count on Chris Rusin every single time out. He won’t let you down.


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