Rockies’ Yency Almonte struggling in 2021 after stellar 2020 season

The biggest hit to the Rockies’ bullpen was losing potential closer Scott Oberg to a reoccurrence of blood clots in his right arm before the season began. Another big blow has been the poor performance of right-hander Yency Almonte.

He appeared to have turned the corner last year when he led the Rockies with 27 2/3 innings pitched in the shortened season, posted a 2.93 ERA and walked only 2.0 batters per nine innings.

But the first half of Almonte’s 2021 season has been ugly. After he gave up five earned runs, including a grand slam, in the Cardinals’ six-run 10th inning Friday night at Coors Field, Almonte was left with an 11.52 ERA. Perhaps even more disconcerting, Almonte is walking 7.6 batters per nine and has served up seven home runs in just 25 innings.

“The thing that sticks out to me is the walk rate for Yency,” manager Bud Black said prior to Saturday night’s game vs. the Cardinals. “With the increased traffic, you have a tendency to maybe be a little bit too fine and try to make too good a pitch. That leads you down a bad path.

“And he’s been pitching behind in the count too much, and he’s not been on the attack early. He’s been in hitters’ counts and he’s had to throw strikes and I think hitters have feasted on that, to a certain extent.”

Black said Almonte’s arm is fine, adding that the fastball velocity (94.3 mph) is good. But Almonte is not locating his pitches and he’s failing to pitch in the bottom of the zone.

Rolison’s rough ride. Lefty prospect Ryan Rolison, who had a legitimate chance of making his big-league debut later this season, has run into a buzzsaw of bad luck. Rolison, 23, was pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque when he went on the injured list on June 14 after surgery to remove his ruptured appendix.

Then he recently suffered a fracture to the third knuckle of his left hand during batting practice while he was shagging flyballs. Black said the hope is that Rolison will begin throwing again in about 10 days. Rolison could begin a throwing program by the end of July.