After Wade Davis’ four-run implosion cost the Rockies a victory in the home opener, manager Bud Black isn’t ready to officially remove the right-hander from the closer role.
“In looking at video (Friday) night and this morning, he missed with a couple fastballs (up in the zone),” Black said Saturday. “Against good hitters, that’s going to cost you. And then there’s the bad walk to (Trent) Grissom with two outs in a tight game — that’s not something Wade wanted to do.
“We’ll see where this goes.”
Black’s ambiguity six games into the season, and one game into the team’s opening homestand, comes as he doesn’t have another sure option to immediately take over for Davis as closer. Davis converted his first two save opportunities this year, both in Texas, but his continued struggles at Coors Field (11.10 ERA last year) are a red flag.
Right-hander Scott Oberg, the bullpen’s most reliable arm last year and a veteran who was projected to likely be the opening day closer, has been on the injured list since the season started with a lower-back strain. He threw live batting practice Thursday and another simulated session Saturday — which ended prematurely — and Black offered no immediate timetable for Oberg’s return.
The manager also noted Oberg wouldn’t immediately slide into the closer role when he comes off the IL.
“I would guess that, when he gets activated, there will be a couple games where he’s inserted just to get him going,” Black said. “He hasn’t pitched a whole lot, or even had the competitiveness of an exhibition game. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there as far as his health.”
As for as other realistic options to take over for Davis, who Black said was rested Saturday due to Friday’s pitch count, right-hander Jairo Diaz tops the list. He had five saves, and three blown, in 2019, and has walked a tight-rope to toss a scoreless inning in four separate games entering Saturday.
“He’s wiggled out of some jams, for sure,” Black said. “In Texas he got out of a bases loaded situation, in Oakland he got out of a second and third situation, (Friday) night he wiggled out of one. He’s making a critical pitch at the right .”
So will Diaz take over for Davis as the Rockies’ closer, until Oberg is healthy and back in back-end bullpen shape? Black didn’t rule the possibility out. Right-hander Carlos Estevez could also be another leading candidate should Black decide to replace Davis soon.
“(Diaz) is already pitching late in the game — we saw him pitch the ninth inning last year and get some saves — and the start of last season in Albuquerque we pitched him as the closer in Triple-A,” Black said. “He responded and pitched very well.”
Padres RHP Zach Davies (1-0, 3.60) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-0, 3.60)
1:10 p.m. Sunday, Coors Field
TV: AT,amp;T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Senzatela got off to a solid start in 2020 in Texas, getting the win while allowing six hits and two runs over five innings. He’s yet to truly find his rhythm at Coors Field since debuting in 2017, as he has a 5.46 ERA in 41 games in LoDo. However, he is 4-0 with a 3.60 ERA in six games (three starts) against the Padres in Denver. Meanwhile, Davies allowed three runs in five innings in his season debut against the Giants last week, and he’s held Colorado’s lineup to one home run in 96 career at-bats.
Trending: The Rockies lead MLB in fewest runs allowed (excluding teams that have had pauses in their schedules), with 17 runs allowed through their first six games.
At issue: Outfielder Raimel Tapia, who DH’d on Friday and did not start on Saturday, is off to a slow start amid the 60-game sprint. Entering Saturday, he was batting .154 (2-for-13) with seven strikeouts.
Monday: Giants RHP Johnny Cueto (0-0, 5.87) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (1-1, 1.54), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Giants RHP Kevin Gausman (0-0, 5.40) at Rockies TBD, 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Giants TBD at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (0-0, 2.61), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM