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Why James Pazos may be exactly what the Colorado Rockies need

Drew Creasman Avatar
March 7, 2020

On your left!

Things in life can sometimes sneak up on you. Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

And James Pazos, left-handed reliever, is incredibly close to sneaking up on being exactly what the Colorado Rockies need right now.

Pazos was an above average reliever in his first full year in the Bigs with Seattle in 2017. He pitched 53.2 innings and posted a 3.86 ERA and a 109 ERA+. He struck out an eye-popping 10.90 batters per nine (as a rookie) but walked a troubling 4.02 batters per nine. He also gave up seven home runs.

The next season, he wasn’t quite as dominant with the swing-and-miss stuff (8.10 K/9) but he was better is just about every other way. He took a full run off the ERA at 2.88 and cut the walks nearly in half at 2.70 in 50 innings pitched. He gave up four home runs.

The Mariners decided to try to get what they could out of a quality reliever like many rebuilding teams do and included him in a deal with Juan Nicasio and  Jean Segura to acquire J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana.

What happened from there is a bit puzzling.

The Phillies stashed him in Triple-A where he got knocked around for five earned runs in 7.1 IP before being traded to Colorado for utility infielder Hunter Stovall.

The Rockies likewise stuck him in Triple-A and the struggles continued. Yes, the PCL last year with the wonky baseball was a joke, but an ERA of 8.80 over 44.1 innings was the least bit inspiring.

Still, with their season spiraling away from them and pitchers dropping like flies, Colorado decided to see if Pazos could somehow recapture the magic he had in MLB if he was back in MLB.

And he did.

In a quiet 10.1 innings of work, he posted an ERA of 1.74, striking out 8.71 per nine and walking 3.48 per nine.

It is difficult to discern what happened with Pazos, but this quote from Bud Black at the Winter Meetings may shed some light:

“He needed to get back to what he did really well. Some of that is how he’s trying to get his outs, where in the zone he’s trying to get his outs, the pitch mix he was utilizing mostly to get his outs and make his pitches, a lot of that he had — for a variety of reasons — strayed from with the team prior. That was a little bit of a rediscovery. And that doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to get that feel back and you’ve got to get that confidence back, and he had to learn about altitude for the first time and did so at Albuquerque, and how his stuff played. He was good. If he had gotten impatient through all of that, I don’t think what happened would have happened in September. It was a credit to him and all the people involved, the coaches, that he stayed the course and let time pass. He didn’t try to skip steps. Some of his outings at the end of September were good. That’s why he’s still on the roster and has a chance to make the team.”

Reading between the lines a bit, it sounds like the Phillies tried to change some things about Pazos before giving up and shipping him out to Colorado where he took a while to rediscover himself.

The Phillies are well-known for being extremely analytically oriented and that doesn’t always jive with everyone. So I sought out a bit more information.

Speaking to Black on the field after a Spring Training tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he confirmed that the Rockies spent a lot of time undoing what what done in Philly but didn’t get into the specifics.

Either way, right in the middle of his physical prime at 28-years-old, Pazos is the perfect breakout candidate for this bullpen.

If he can find himself again. This Spring, he has pitched 5.2 innings and given up a single run on a pair of hits, walked two, and struck out three.

So, when looking for ways that the 2020 Colorado club might get a boost, keep your ears open for James Pazos announcing his arrival.

“On your left!”


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