When the Rockies needed a pitcher, they looked to the Colorado native
Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 20, Ty Blach: 0.3 rWAR
If the Colorado Rockies have had a “utility pitcher” over the last two seasons, it is surely Ty Blach.
Need someone to spend time in Triple-A Albuquerque until there’s a need in Denver? Better call Ty! Need someone to work out of the bullpen or perhaps throw long relief? Better call Ty! Need someone to move into the rotation because you’re out of starters? Again, Better call Ty! (The scriptwriters of the Rockies season won’t be getting the Emmy awards and nominations that the Better Call Saul writers room has, but you get the idea.)
But 2023 was a winding road for the Colorado native.
During the offseason, the Rockies signed him to an MiLB contract with an invite to spring training, and he began the season in Albuquerque. On March 27, the Rockies selected Blach’s contract before DFAing him on April 29. On May 2, Blach returned to the Isotopes where he pitched until June 30. He stayed with the Rockies for the remainder of the season.
In 2023, Blach pitched 78 innings, finishing the season with a 5.54 ERA (xERA 7.21). In addition, he had a 5.63 FIP (xFIP 5.01), and 110 ERA-. Blach earned a 5.77 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, and 1.73 HR/9.
It wasn’t stellar stuff, but when the Rockies needed him, Blach stepped up.
If there’s anything he understands, it’s the need to be flexible.
“I’ve always been a guy who’s prided myself on doing whatever the team needs me to do,” Blach said. “And I just felt like this year, I was kind of up and down, especially early, but I was able to settle in, and [my] goal was just give the team a chance to win.”
While Blach acknowledges that it’s impossible not to wonder about what will happen in 2024, he stays focused on the game at hand.
“You’re just trying to go out and pitch the game,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to: staying in the moment and seeing how the game unfolds and just trying to give your team a chance to win every time you’re out there.”
Still, it’s an uneven business, especially given that it involves pitching at elevation for the Rockies.
“Sometimes you’ve got to throw a shutout,” Blach said, “and sometimes, you give up five or six runs and you get a win. You never know how it is as a starting pitcher, especially here at Coors Field. There are so many different factors that come into play, and we know there are games where there’s a lot of homers hit or a lot of balls in the gap, and you just try to find a way to eat innings and give the team a chance.”
And that’s why the Rockies have called on Ty Blach.
This year, his fastball laid the foundation for deploying the rest of his pitching arsenal.
“I think I’ve always known that my fastball kind of sneaks up on guys,” Blach said. “I don’t throw overly hard, but I think there’s some deception in the delivery where it kind of creates some late swings and you get a lot of ground balls.” Blach has also found that mixing it in with his cutter and changeup allows him to stay in games longer.
One of those ground balls leads to Blach’s favorite out of the season, which came in Baltimore.
“It was bases loaded, nobody out,” Blach said, “and Austin Hayes was coming up. Austin Wynns came out, and he said, ‘Hey, he’s gonna swing at the first pitch right here. I want you to throw a slider.’”
Blach considered the recommendation.
“In my head, I was thinking ‘changeup,’ But when he said ‘slider,’ I was like, ‘Oh, I kind of like that. I can see him hitting a ground ball the third here.”’
So, he took Wynns’ advice.
“Sure enough, I threw the slider,” Blach said. “He hit a ground ball to third, Mac [Ryan McMahon] steps on third, and then throws him out at home, and we get the double play and get out of the inning in a really close game. That one definitely stands out for me.”
It’s easy to see why.
Through the challenges of the 2023 season, Blach learned a lot, but mostly about perseverance.
As he explained, “Having a really tough first month for me — getting DFA’d and spending a couple of months in Triple-A — to being able to come back and prove that I can still pitch at this level, compete, give the team a chance to win, I think for me that’s what I’ll take away from the season and know that there’s a lot of positive I can take into the offseason to build on and continue to get better.”
Blach’s future with the Rockies is uncertain. He was outrighted on October 18. Two days later, he elected free agency.
Given the Rockies’ need for pitching, it’s possible Blach will return in 2024.
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Title: Ranking the Rockies: No. 20, Ty Blach
Author: Renee Dechert