ATLANTA -- Rockies left-hander Boone Logan's success this season demonstrates why there are no meaningless games.
Remember last August and September? It's OK if not. The Rockies were well out of the race. But it was then that Logan began to turn things around after nearly three years of elbow pain and injury, which included nearly two in a Rockies uniform. From Aug. 1 to season's end, Logan posted a 1.23 ERA while facing mostly left-handed hitters in 17 appearances.
The hot streak, which included an Aug. 14-Sept. 1 disabled-list stint for left elbow inflammation, let the Rockies see what Logan could do when healthy. This year, Logan has a 2.84 ERA in 37 appearances spanning 25 1/3 innings. Hitters have a .170 batting average.
Before the All-Star break, scouting traffic picked up as teams with better records began plans to pluck from non-contenders before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But Logan has been a key figure in two Rockies wins over the Braves coming out of the All-Star break (2 2/3 scoreless innings, one win), and the Rockies hope he's a reason the team will find itself going for a postseason berth and looking to add rather than subtract.
Either way, the Rockies would have no idea of the asset they have had Logan succumbed to pitching like the end of last season was a who cares? proposition.
Manager Walt Weiss spent most of his playing career being a part of winners and said, "Everybody talks about the pressure of being in a pennant race, but that's easy -- everybody's trying to win. The tough thing is trying to play when you're out of it."
Weiss said Logan understood the importance of those games. They were important to the Rockies, who were deciding who would be counted upon this year. Logan handled the lefties well enough that the Rockies didn't want to unload all or part of the $6.25 million 2016 investment -- the final year of a three-year, $16.5 million deal that is the richest in club history for a reliever.
"He's come a long way," Weiss said. "He's done well against right-handers, too, and that was a goal of his. He struggled against right-handers last year, and he told me at the end of the year, 'I'm going to get righties out for you next year, too.'"
Lefties are hitting .164 in with a .465 OPS in 65 plate appearances. But righties aren't doing much better -- .188 and .556, respectively, so the percentages aren't with opposing managers who play the matchup.
The healthier elbow has allowed him to place his slider at the back foot of right-handers and control his fastball.
"He's got some deception, a lower arm slot that makes him even tougher on lefties, but he's pitched with his fastball better this year," Weiss said. "He's gotten some strikeouts on his fastball. Last year, he had to get you on his slider or he wasn't going to get you."