Stingy bullpen aiding Rockies' rise

Stingy bullpen aiding Rockies' rise

DENVER -- One of the Rockies' most gaping handicaps last year has transitioned into their biggest assets through the first 10 games of 2017.

A bullpen that posted an MLB-worst 5.13 ERA in '16 has more than halved that number to 2.31 after Wednesday's 6-0 loss to the Padres, in which Rockies relievers were responsible for 3 1/3 scoreless innings after the Padres chased rookie Kyle Freeland to four first-inning runs.

The bullpen has had an even stronger showing when protecting a lead. In 17 innings that Rockies relievers have pitched while winning, they've posted a 1.06 ERA with 28 strikeouts, seven hits and eight walks. New closer Greg Holland has an MLB-high five saves in five opportunities.

"I think knowing that you're a part of a good baseball team, you don't want to be the weak link in that team and we have been the last few years," setup man Adam Ottavino said. "This year we have a really big opportunity to be a strength for the team, not a weakness, so we take that to heart."

So far, Mike Dunn has been the only reliever the Rockies have called on with the game tied and he's earned a win in each of those outings, both scoreless. Before Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Padres, Holland hadn't allowed a runner to reach second base. Jake McGee, marred by a left knee injury for the bulk of '16, on Wednesday registered his hardest-thrown pitch since coming off the disabled list last July, at 97.1 mph, per Statcast™.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.