DENVER — After blowing a save in each of his last two opportunities, the Colorado Rockies will look for another answer at closer other than Pierce Johnson.
Johnson started the season by converting 11 consecutive save opportunities (the fifth pitcher in franchise history to begin his season with 11 straight save conversions and the first since Greg Holland set the franchise record in 2017 with 23 straight save conversions to begin the season), but has struggled in recent games. Giving up two or more runs in three of his last five outings, Johnson’s ERA has climbed to 7.50 and his WHIP has skyrocketed to 1.958.
“We’re going to take a step back with Pierce and move him earlier in the game,” Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said on Friday. “We’ll see how each game plays out.”
Who will Colorado Rockies turn to as the closer with Pierce Johnson pitching earlier?
The Rockies could turn to Daniel Bard, Justin Lawrence or Brad Hand in a closer by committee role for the time being, Black said. Bard was Colorado’s closer since signing with the team before the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, racking up 54 saves over the past two seasons. The 37-year-old right-hander, however, started the season on the injured list after dealing with anxiety, opening the door for Johnson to grab the role.
Hand, 33, also has plenty of save experience, logging 131 during his 13-year MLB career, so moving into a late role would make sense for him as well. The 28-year-old Lawrence has three career saves, including two already this season.
When asked about a timetable for having a solidified closer rather than a committee, Black said, “No timetable. Let’s just play it out.”
Black did add, however, that he would be looking at results from members of his bullpen over the next few games to decide if there would be a designated closer at some point in the near future.