Ottavino thriving since return from Tommy John

Ottavino thriving since return from Tommy John

DENVER -- At least statistically, Rockies right-handed pitcher Adam Ottavino hasn't missed a step since missing 14 months because of Tommy John surgery.

Ottavino threw a scoreless inning during Friday's 5-3 loss to the Marlins to extend his scoreless string to 25 1/3 innings -- the longest active streak in the Majors. The last run Ottavino allowed came Sept. 6, 2014, against San Diego, 30 appearances ago.

Before the injury last April, Ottavino threw 10 1/3 scoreless innings in 10 games and had become the Rockies' closer. Since returning last month, he has 10 2/3 scoreless innings, with his wipeout slider and a fastball that can reach the mid and upper 90s. Even better news is Ottavino believes he can improve.

"It's been up and down, in terms of how I feel," Ottavino said. "You see my fastball velocity has fluctuated more than normal. Even within an inning, with the same effort, I can be 92 or I can be 95. That's one aspect that's a little weird.

"Also, home-road and the way I've been bouncing back has been kind of backwards. I'm feeling a little better at home, for whatever reason. I've been feeling better and better since the surgery, but I'm not at the point where I know what to expect every single day when I wake up."

Ottavino gave up two hits, but struck out two to escape a jam on Thursday at home against the Dodgers, so Friday marked the first time he has pitched on consecutive days since being activated.

The Rockies are committed to hard-throwing rookie Carlos Estevez in the closer's role. Ottavino has quickly earned a primary setup role.

"He certainly has hit the ground running, coming back from that Tommy John," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's still a very uncomfortable at-bat, especially for right-handed hitters. And he's done some work to try to be more effective against left-handed hitters. He's got a real good feel for things. He makes adjustments well."

Worth noting

• Righty reliever Chad Qualls, who hasn't pitched since July 15 because of colitis, will throw a bullpen session Sunday and hopes to throw a simulated game Wednesday before the Rockies play at Texas. If all goes well, he will then go on an injury rehab assignment.

• Before giving up four runs in the ninth inning Friday night, Estevez had a 1.80 ERA and seven saves in his previous 11 games. As Estevez struggled, fans instantly second-guessed Weiss' decision not to yank Estevez.

"He's been absolutely dominant," Weiss said. "Because the guy walks the leadoff hitter, you don't go take him out."

Had a ground ball from Martin Prado (who has grounded into a National League-leading 18 double plays) not found a hole, Estevez may have limited damage.

"It's like a field-goal kicker -- the one time you miss, everyone wants you fired," Weiss said.

• Lefty reliever Jake McGee turned 30 on Saturday.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.