Miller, Oberg could pitch in big spots down stretch
NEW YORK -- Expect to see right-handed relief pitchers such as Justin Miller and Scott Oberg to receive higher-leverage innings in the Rockies' bullpen during the season's final weeks.
There could be opportunities for hard throwers at Triple-A Albuquerque such as lefty Rex Brothers and righty Jairo Diaz, but they have to address control and consistency issues to earn them. The Rockies also could take a look at righty Miguel Castro, a hard thrower who joined the club in the trade that sent star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays.
The more-experienced options are lefty Boone Logan, who has let all six inherited runners score in his last two outings, and righty John Axford, who seemed to be shaking a slump before losing command in Tuesday night's loss to the Mets.
Miller struggled Monday, giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning in a loss to the Mets, but he had been pitching well prior to that outing. Oberg has had up-and-down results as a rookie who was in Double-A last year.
"That's part of the plan," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Those guys have pitched some late. You've got to be careful not running them into the ground. But I'll pick my spots to use them late, no doubt about it. Both guys certainly are options to protect leads and protect games."
Brothers, 27, the onetime Rockies closer who became wild over the past two years, is 4-1 with a 4.15 ERA, 52 strikeouts and three saves in four chances at Albuquerque this year, but has 33 walks in 34 2/3 innings.
Diaz, 24, a hard thrower who debuted with the Angels last year despite not pitching in Triple-A, is 3-5 with a 5.04 ERA at Albuquerque and has 42 strikeouts and 36 walks.
"We haven't finalized our thoughts for September, but some of our bullpen guys at Triple-A have been down there for a reason," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. "They need to become more consistent at things in order to have success up here. There have been good things, but there are things that are continuing to be worrisome, and they have to master them."
Castro, 20, who debuted with the Blue Jays this season, has made five appearances covering five innings at Albuquerque (three runs, two earned, three hits, three strikeouts and four walks), and has blown two saves. Combined in the Minors this year, he is 1-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.
"We're still in that get-to-know-you stage, just making sure he feels comfortable with the organization," Bridich said. "He's a guy that was pushed up to the Major League level at age 20. We'll evaluate him as it comes to September callups just like we'll evaluate anybody else."
• Weiss said he isn't prepared to go away from Logan despite his struggles this week. Logan faced Mets lefty hitter Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded twice, hitting him the first time and walking him the next. Since July 26, Logan has given up nine hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings. Christian Friedrich could get some late lefty matchups, but Logan is still the guy.
• Righty Brooks Brown, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since June 16 because of right shoulder inflammation, entered Wednesday having thrown six injury rehab innings at Albuquerque (3.00 ERA, seven strikeouts, two walks). He has a history of effectiveness against lefty hitters and could be an option when he returns.