As the Rockies enjoy a nice off-day finally, not much to write about, aside from a Tyler Colvin sighting (he hit a homer for the Giants tonight to make it 1-1 going into the 7th vs the Braves. The Giants survived a killer Kershaw outing and won it with 3 runs in the 10th to take the major league lead in wins. But we want good news, Rockies news. I have talked a lot about Rockies AA and AAA starting pitching, but with all the injuries around the majors to pitchers (looks like Fernandez in Miami might be heading for Tommy John rather than Cy Young), including the bullpens, I got to thinking, what happens if we have an injury to one of our lefties in the pen. And because I have been following Tulsa so much, thought I would introduce you to a potential lefty (especially as one-out lefty only pitcher) reliever. Kraig Sitton.
There are 40 guys who sit on our major league roster (well plus those on the 60-day DL as well such as Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson). Some are guys we simply know nothing about and may never see play as being on the 40 is no guarantee you will ever make it to the major league level. But being on the 40 means if an injury or poor performance necessitates a change, the team doesn’t have do a thing to bring you up aside from swap you for the existing player.
Kraig was a 7thround pick in 2010 out of Oregon State University. He is a big kid – 6’5” but just 190 and throws left-handed, which is why his making the 40 man roster this off-season is of interest. Left-handed relievers tend if they can get out left-handed hitters tend to have long careers, if that is they can get left-handed hitters out. Kraig is 25 and still in AA, which would be an issue if he were a position player, but relievers tend to not be as impacted by being “too old” for their level. At 25 Kraig isn’t too old, but he did repeat a year in High A at Modesto, despite good periphal numbers. Again, the goal is development. We often see relievers make it the first time at age 28+. One of my favorite players is Jean Machi, the very good Giants reliever who made it to “the Show” in 2012 for the first time at age 28 and now is a firmly entrenched as part of their bullpen for the forseeable future. The issue with relievers is can you get guys out – not how old you are (LeTroy is still doing at 40 and Jesse Orosco had his final season at age 47 I believe).
Kraig was part of the Arizona Fall League group the Rockies sent after the 2013 season where he threw 67.2 innings for Modesto (a hitters league) with a 1.300 WHIP, 2.93 ERA, 2.33 K/BB and allowing only 3 homers. A good season for the lefty, and with that many innings you know he wasn’t just throwing to lefties (he had 52 games to get those 67.2 innings). So far this season he has thrown 15.1 innings, 5.1 of those to lefties allowing only 5 hits and 0ER. Against righties he has done even better – 10 innings, 4 hits, 1 ER and a batting average of just .121. This is not a future closer in case you are wondering, but has a chance to develop into a Boone Logan type, or at least a “one-out, left-handed specialist” (I don’t think the Rox will ever carry such a guy just because they have to rely on the bullpen so very much).
His time last fall in Arizona didn’t go as he would have liked, with one outing blowing-up his stats and ruining a chance to make a bigger impression. He does get Ks, and he pitches both low and inside, which is what the team wants. Will he ever make it? I bet he gets a cup-of-coffee at some point (since he is on the 40, assuming that doesn’t change due to needing his spot, if the Rockies are battling for the playoffs in September they will give him a shot and see if he can get lefties out at least. I actually enjoy watching him pitch because he is so tall and thin, but sadly when you are a college pitcher and you repeat a year, you need to do something really big to grab the attention of the big league club again. So far this spring, he has been a dominate guy coming in to take the 7th inning for the Tulsa starters, and if he can continue to get out other team’s best hitter (aka, their major league team’s prospects), he might yet get to see Coors Field in uniform. With a 27:18 GO/FO ratio, he is doing what he is asked to do…and for guys in the minors, all they can do is that. We know that there will be injuries and ineffectiveness in the pen, and even with Wilton Lopez, Chad Bettis, and Rob Schahill first on the depth chart, the idea of needing more than 11 relievers isn’t a stretch. And that is what got me thinking about what happens if either Rex Brothers or Boone Logan goes on the 15-day DL? We know they wont go with just one lefty in the pen, not with the lefty bats they face regularly. While Morales may well end up there in the end, right now he is needed starting. So if either Boone or Brothers hits the DL….we might very well see Kraig Sitton, and if that happens, we have to hope the lessons he is learning will pay off. Although, I would rather just see Boone and Brothers stay nice and healthy. And that is your Kraig Sitton update for the month!