Weiss has tough task managing overused 'pen

Weiss has tough task managing overused 'pen

DENVER -- The Rockies' biggest offseason activity featured a series of moves to bolster their bullpen. Five games into the season, the need for a deep, resilient relief corps could not be more evident.

Colorado relievers have thrown 20 1/3 of the team's 44 innings so far (46.2 percent). In 2015, the bullpen notched 39.9 percent of the club's innings.

On a homestand that started with Jordan Lyles lasting only 3 1/3 innings Friday and Opening Day starter Jorge De La Rosa tallying just four frames Saturday, the bullpen is already bordering on "beleaguered" status, with seven of their eight-man crew seeing action in the first two games at Coors Field. Christian Bergman, Miguel Castro and Jason Gurka each posted two-inning outings over the past two days. Do they have a reliever ready to go long if needed?

"I guess it depends on your definition of 'long,'" manager Walt Weiss said before Sunday's series finale against the Padres. "We've got some multi-inning guys down there. I don't see any one guy in the 'pen going four or five innings, but we got enough to get through the game, for sure."

Coming into the homestand, general manager Jeff Bridich cited "the health of the starting rotation" as the team's top unanswered question. The Rockies started the season with projected starter Jon Gray on the 15-day disabled list with an abdominal strain, and they've made use of two off-days in the season's first eight days to employ a four-man rotation of De La Rosa, Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood and Lyles. Only Chatwood made it through six innings during the first five games.

Chatwood's winning start

If all goes well, Gray would be available for a road series with the Reds beginning April 18, and although his Saturday rehab start with Class A Advanced Modesto was rained out, he's still on track.

"He got pushed back a day, but things still line up pretty well for Johnny," Weiss said.

Short term, the tentative plan is to use Bergman for a spot start against the Giants on Thursday.

"He's slated for the 14th, but a lot of it depends on if we have to use him in the bullpen," Weiss said. "Then we'd have to change some things around, and there's a Plan B there. We're not talking about bringing in different guys to make a start, but we can juggle some things around with the same people."

Weiss looks forward to the opportunity to use the bullpen the way it was designed, with southpaws Gurka, Boone Logan, Jake McGee, and Chris Rusin balancing righties Bergman, Castro, Justin Miller and Chad Qualls, but situations have dictated otherwise.

"When you get a short start, roles in the bullpen go out the window -- all bets are off," Weiss said. "We're just trying to get through a game. We have the pieces to match up; we just have to get in position to do it. When we have, we've done pretty well."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.