Rusin does it all as key piece in Rockies bullpen

Rusin does it all as key piece in Rockies bullpen

LOS ANGELES -- In a bullpen well equipped with versatile pieces, left-hander Chris Rusin has emerged as one of the Rockies' most flexible and effective options.

Rusin, who entered Saturday leading Major League relievers with 77 1/3 innings this year, pitched two scoreless innings in Friday's win over the Dodgers, going right through the heart of their order and striking out Justin Turner to leave the tying run on third base in the sixth inning.

It was yet another solid outing for Rusin, who's 2-0 with a 0.81 ERA over his last 14 relief appearances (22 1/3 innings).

"He's pitched early in the game and has given us some length, he's pitched in the middle of games in terms of spots where we need him to hold down the fort, and he's pitched late in games," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's done it all for us, really."

The 30-year-old converted to full-time bullpen duties last season, and Black has capitalized on his special skill set. Rusin has made relief appearances of two or more innings 16 times and has made appearances of at least three innings on five occasions.

"It's really good to have a guy like that where he gives you a sense of comfort and you know he's available," Black said. "He's good situationally to get a left-handed hitter if that's needed, and he's good to throw 40, 50 pitches when that's called for."

In 80 career relief appearances entering Saturday, Rusin has a 2.73 ERA over a 142-inning stretch, compared to a 5.19 ERA through 49 career starts.

Rusin's versatility won't keep him from being used in high-leverage spots, though.

"We'll for sure use him in those," Black said. "Yesterday was extremely high-leverage for him. ... He was flawless."

Worth noting

Tyler Anderson threw a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium on Friday and could be activated from the 60-day disabled list as early as Sunday. Anderson hasn't pitched in the Majors since June 25 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He last pitched in the Minors on Monday, throwing 50 pitches over 3 1/3 innings.

Pat Valaika turned 25 on Saturday. Valaika got to celebrate close to home as he grew up in Santa Clarita, Calif., a little under 40 miles north of Dodger Stadium.

• Class A Advanced Lancaster defeated Rancho Cucamonga, 12-7, on Saturday to win a best-of-five series, three games to one, in the California League semifinals. The JetHawks advanced to the championship round against the Modesto Nuts.

Ryan Posner is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Rockies on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.