DENVER — Being the only left-handed reliever in a major league bullpen can get a little lonely sometimes.
All of the hitting meetings are geared towards the right-handers, and they don’t have anyone to talk through reports with. Ben Bowden and Lucas Gilbreath have both experienced this isolation this season. But right now, Bowden and Gilbreath are both with the Rockies, and they are making the most of the chance to band together.
“It’s hard,” Gilbreath said of being alone. “It’s definitely different.”
Bowden and Gilbreath have known each other since Gilbreath started his professional career in 2017, when he was assigned to Grand Junction and Bowden was there rehabbing. They made their debuts earlier this season, just a few weeks apart from each other.
Bowden is more of a competitor, while Gilbreath thrives with analytics. Gilbreath loves the process of preparing for games — he revels in reports, taking the time to figure hot and cold zones and tendencies of hitters.
They’ll go through them together, and Bowden will ask Gilbreath questions about what he sees or how he interpreted something. It helps Bowden understand his opponent better, and requires Gilbreath to think through things more.
“I’m kind of the dumb guy that just goes out and throws,” Bowden said. “He’s been opening my eyes to things that I did not know.”
Both, though, still have a ways to go until they are fully major league ready, causing both of them to ping pong between Triple-A and the Rockies this season, each time with a list of things to work on. Gilbreath has a 6.97 ERA and has given up eight runs in 11.1 innings, while Bowden has a 6.0 ERA and has allowed 12 runs in 15 innings.
“These guys have to adhere to these principles (of pitching), to lay the basics of success and performance,” manager Bud Black said. “Simply put, they have to throw more strikes.”
Bowden needs to improve his fastball command. He’ll come out and strike out the first two batters, then he’ll start to get behind. He hasn’t figured out why, but he’ll start throwing short fastballs, something he’s never done before.
Gilbreath, who is still new to the reliever role after being a starter for most of his minor league career, is working on his consistency. He also wants to replicate some of Bowden’s fiery competitiveness.
“He’s always ready to go out there,” Gilbreath said. “It’s been good to have each other to balance that mindset.”
Jon Gray (flexor strain) threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday, and is scheduled to make a rehab start with Triple-A Albuquerque this weekend. He only expects to need one appearance with the Isotopes before he’ll be ready to return to the rotation.
Mychal Givens (lower back strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list. It’s been bugging him for some time, and they felt he needed time to recover. Justin Lawrence was recalled from Triple-A.
Chris Owings (thumb) has played in two rehab games with the Isotopes. After missing over two months, he needs time to ramp up again before he’ll be ready to return. Matt Adams (elbow) has resumed baseball activities and hopes to start throwing soon.