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Rockies call up Pounders, option Oberg

Colorado hopes right-hander can bolster struggling bullpen
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Righty Brooks Pounders, who appeared in 11 games for the Angels last season, arrived Tuesday as the latest reinforcement for a Rockies bullpen that has had its moments but, overall, has struggled this season.

Pounders, who has a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, replaces righty Scott Oberg (1-0, 6.55 ERA in 10 games), who was optioned to Albuquerque. To add Pounders to the Major League roster, the Rockies designated Albuquerque righty starter Zach Jemiola for assignment.

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DENVER -- Righty Brooks Pounders, who appeared in 11 games for the Angels last season, arrived Tuesday as the latest reinforcement for a Rockies bullpen that has had its moments but, overall, has struggled this season.

Pounders, who has a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, replaces righty Scott Oberg (1-0, 6.55 ERA in 10 games), who was optioned to Albuquerque. To add Pounders to the Major League roster, the Rockies designated Albuquerque righty starter Zach Jemiola for assignment.

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Pounders, 27, went 1-0 with 12 earned runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings last season with the Angels. He also went 2-1 with a 9.24 ERA for the Royals in 2016. Each year, his bad outings were really bad, which inflated his final numbers, but it points to elusive consistency which Pounders has yet to find.

"It's just staying within myself and controlling what I can control, not doing too much in situations when you need a strikeout," Pounders said. "Just get to that pitch that gets you the strikeout instead of getting deeper into counts. Obviously, for me, it's keeping the ball down and away from right-handed hitters and down and away from left-handed hitters."

During the first four games of the current six-game homestand, the Rockies gave up nine or more runs three times -- a 16-5 loss to the Cubs on Friday night, a 9-7 loss to the Cubs Sunday and a 13-5 loss to the Padres on Monday. It all meant heavy bullpen usage. The Rockies have made two additions this week, with lefty Harrison Musgrave joining Monday when lefty Chris Rusin went to the 10-day disabled list with an intercostal muscle strain, and Pounders arriving Tuesday.

"We needed a guy with a little bit of length and a fresh arm, so that was the priority there," said Rockies manager Bud Black, who noted that Pounders had not pitched in three days.

Tale of two bullpens
With the exception of Monday's loss, when lefty Jake McGee lost a lead in the seventh inning, the bullpen had pitched far better with a lead or in tie games than when behind. They're 9-1 when ahead after six.

However, part of the reason the Rockies entered Tuesday with a 12-12 record is that they are 0-10 when behind after six, and 0-12 when behind after seven. The bullpen's performance was far different when ahead and when behind.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, here is the Rockies' bullpen's performance, according to the score:

When ahead: 3.12 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .630 OPS

When tied: 3.72 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .779 OPS

When trailing: 7.57 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .776 OPS

McGee, whose ERA rose from 1.14 to 5.06 because of Monday's rough outing, Adam Ottavino (0.71 ERA) and closer Wade Davis (1.93, 9-of-10 on save chances) generally end up with the ball with a lead. Rusin (4.97) was rounding into form after a rough beginning.

However, lefty Mike Dunn (10.80 ERA) hasn't given up a hit in five high-leverage plate appearances, but has yielded a .571 average in medium-leverage and .375 in low-leverage appearances. Bryan Shaw (7.59 ERA) has allowed a .100 batting average against in high leverage situations, vs. .400 medium and .471 low.

Oberg, being sent down with some specifics to help him close out counts, was doing most of his pitching with the Rockies behind. It is worth noting that 11 of the 13 runners Oberg has inherited have scored. Last year, just six of the 38 scored.

"We have a lot of guys throwing the ball well, but we've had some unfortunate luck for a few guys," Ottavino said. "I feel those guys have thrown the ball better than their ERAs, especially 'Dunner.' Crazy things have happened.

"When we do have the leads we've been able to hold them. But the thing is we've got to be able to keep the game close when we're down."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Zach Jemiola, Scott Oberg, Brooks Pounders