Connie Mack would commiserate with Bud Black.
The 1950 Athletics’ Cornelius McGilllicuddy was punished in his 50th, and last season, as a manager the worst bullpen in major league history. The relievers compiled an aircraft earned-run average (7.77).
With a bullpen ERA of 4.94, the Rockies can’t compete with that futility.
But Black, a former pitcher, may have the most expensive flawed relief staff ever. In 2017-18 general manager Jeff Bridich gave out colossal contracts totaling more than $125 million to free agents Mike Dunn, Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee. Adam Ottavino is another of the relievers earning $7 million-$7.5 million this season, and closer Davis gets $16 million.
Bridich said his approach on pitching was “holistic,’’ which means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Rox relievers have been more hole than whole.
The Rockies rank last overall in runs allowed in the seventh inning, and are in the high 20s for the eighth and the ninth.
Led by Wade Davis, the Rox are second only to the Giants in blown saves, 27-26.
If the Rockies had won almost half those blustered games, they’d be far ahead in the National League West.
Even the “O’’ brothers were uncharacteristically terrible in the back-to-back 12-3 and 10-7 defeats Sunday and Monday.
Ottavino, among the game’s most dominant bullpen artists this season, and Seunghwan Oh, who has been solid since his acquisition at the trade deadline, both melted down.
Veterans Shaw (6.16), Dunn (9.00), who is on the disabled list, and McGee (5.80) have become washouts; Chris Rusin (6.85), injured for a while, is not contributing; and Brooks Pounders, we hardly knew or love ye with a 7.63 ERA.
Bridich, who doesn’t address the troubles publicly, didn’t made another move to help with those insipid late innings. However, because of the starting rotation and the offense, the Rockies are hanging close to first in the division or a potential wild-card spot. Thank goodness for Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray and German Marquez, and Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and D.J. LeMahieu.
Before their final interleague game of the season Tuesday night, the Local Lads were 13-12 for August (with two more games in the month against the Padres). That pace is not good enough.
The Rockies are 71-60, with a winning percentage of .542. In order to reach the magical 90-victory mark, they must play at a .612 clip in September.
It’s conceivable, as we know from 2007. But they still have to deal in the wild-card race with those saintly Cardinals (the best team in August), the Brewers, the Phillies and the dastardly Dodgers. I’ve submitted all year that the most precise postseason path for the Rockies is to finish first in the division.
The Rockies survived that brutally difficult schedule, and now it’s the Diamondbacks’ turn. The Snakes In The Desert confront the toughest final month of the contenders. If the Rockies can win at least seven of the 13 games remaining with the other two contenders, and dominate the Padres and the Giants, they’re in playoff position.
However, their fate is in the hands of a “bullpen,’’ a term first applied in an 1883 New York Times sports article to describe the area where relievers sit and wait — like bulls standing by to enter the ring to face matadors.
Commander Black and his lieutenants, Steve Foster and Darren Holmes, know considerably more about pitching than the rest of us.
Yet, Davis and Ottavino look tired. Davis has pitched 57 times. He will tie or surpass the most appearances in his career (71), and he was 28 in 2014. Ottavino, also 32, missed 2½ weeks in May-June with an oblique injury, and has been called in for 34 games since.
There’s wear and potential tear, at altitude, where the Rox play half their games. Fatigue is a factor. And as a result of the ineffectiveness of the other high-ticket relievers and the abundance of close games, and the Rockies’ imposed 100-pitch limit on starters, the back of the bullpen is relied upon too often.
With a month of games remaining, there’s no relief for the weary, but the Rockies desperately need relief.