DENVER -- The lesson of last year's return to the postseason was the same as every successful season in Rockies history: A strong bullpen makes the difference. When Spring Training begins next month, the Rockies will arrive having invested big in their relief staff.It took a three-year guarantee worth $52
DENVER -- The lesson of last year's return to the postseason was the same as every successful season in Rockies history: A strong bullpen makes the difference. When Spring Training begins next month, the Rockies will arrive having invested big in their relief staff.
It took a three-year guarantee worth $52 million to land free-agent closer Wade Davis, who replaces Greg Holland -- whose work, especially in the first half, helped the Rockies build numbers in the "W" column. Colorado also added lefty Jake McGee and righty Bryan Shaw to three-year, $27 million contracts, and righty Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn will be making $7 million apiece.
• Projected:Lineup | Rotation
MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Rockies might stack up:
BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Wade Davis, RHP (Closer)
Bryan Shaw, RHP
Jake McGee, LHP
Adam Ottavino, RHP
Mike Dunn, LHP
Carlos Estevez, RHP
Scott Oberg, RHP
Chris Rusin, LHP
This could be the strength of the entire team. Davis blew just one save last year while helping the Cubs into the National League Championship Series. Shaw was a big-game pitcher during the Indians' postseason runs. McGee is coming off a solid season (3.61 ERA), and Rusin was one of the more valuable relievers in the Majors (2.65 ERA, 60 games) in his unsung role last year.
Ottavino is coming off a year (5.06 ERA) in which little went right, and he will need to regain the command (39 walks in 53 1/3 innings) that made him one of the better relievers in the Majors in prior seasons.
WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The Rockies believe Estevez and Oberg, who had their struggles over the last two years but improved to the point that they were trusted in the NL Wild Card Game, have closer-type stuff. If there is an injury, they could end up in more prominent roles. Eyes will be on righty prospect Jairo Diaz, who will be two seasons beyond Tommy John surgery, and Rayan Gonzalez, who will be nearly a year past his procedure. Two others with a chance to impress will be lefty Zachary Rosscup, who was hard on lefty hitters during brief duty last season (hitless in 15 at-bats with eight strikeouts), and righty James Farris, who pitched at Triple-A Albuquerque (4.62 ERA) last season.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.