New Rangers reliever Will Smith wasn’t the only left-hander to sign on March 4. After losing a key left-hander in its bullpen, the Rockies moved to secure Brad Hand to a one-year deal. The move marks the second notable bullpen addition for Colorado since the end of 2022, just a few weeks after the Rockies picked up Pierce Johnson via free agency. Here’s a look at Hand’s 2022 season, and how he fits into the Rockies this year.
A Look at Hand
Left-hander Brad Hand may not miss as many bats with his stuff, but the 32-year-old proved to be a highly valuable arm for the National League champion Phillies in 2022. A year after he posted his worst ERA in a single season since he moved to the bullpen in 2015, Hand posted a tidy 2.80 ERA and struck out 38 over 45 innings. Among the 206 relievers that threw at least 40 innings in 2022, Hand posted the 57th-best ERA figure. In the 2022 MLB Playoffs, Hand recorded a 4.76 ERA over seven games and 5.2 IP.
At his prime with the Guardians, Hand boasted a devastating low-80s slider that he paired with a good fastball to get hitters chasing. While Hand has seen a steady dip in Chase% and Whiff% stats, as well as a dip in velocity on his slider, it’s still a good weapon.
Command, though, will be something to watch moving forward. Traditionally one of the best relievers in terms of painting and hitting his spots, Hand has seen his BB% spike in recent years. That, however, didn’t hurt him too much last year.
What it Means
With the addition of Brad Hand, here’s a look at how the Rockies bullpen could shake out come 2023:
- LHP Brad Hand
- RHP Daniel Bard
- RHP Jake Bird*
- RHP Gavin Hollowell
- RHP Pierce Johnson
- RHP Tyler Kinley*
- RHP Dinelson Lamet
- RHP Brent Suter
Ty Blach and Justin Lawrence, or someone like Connor Seabold, may also factor into the equation in the Rockies bullpen in 2023. Blach and Lawrence both pitched for the Rockies in 2022, but did not have particularly good seasons. However, Blach has had a good start to the spring thus far. Entering play on March 4, Blach struck out five over 5.1 scoreless innings.
The addition of Hand, from a personnel standpoint, is much-needed. Besides the fact that Colorado lost its second-most valuable reliever in Carlos Estevez this past winter, left-hander Lucas Gilbreath will reportedly need UCL reconstruction surgery that is set to keep him out for all of 2023. The loss of Gilbreath marks yet another notable injury to the Rockies bullpen, as both Jake Bird and Tyler Kinley are expected to miss Opening Day.