In 2016, Colorado Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin ended up emerging as one of the more valuable members of the roster. In addition to excelling out of the bullpen -- especially in clutch situations -- Rusin was able to give the Rockies an occasional spot start, meaning that the Rockies didn't have to make any, oftentimes permanent, roster moves. Not having to option anyone or call anyone up too soon, Rusin's ability to step into the rotation when asked, and just as importantly, step back into the bullpen without losing a step, made him a favorite among his teammates.
And in 2017, while Rusin remains very much a part of the overall picture, the Rockies have found that they've developed another guy built perfectly for that role; Harrison Musgrave.
BSN Denver caught up with Musgrave this spring training and learned just how easy going and malleable he can be. But just as importantly, he explained a specific quirk of his game that makes him perfectly suited for a role the Rockies always need.
"I'm one of those guys, I don't take very long to warm up," he says. "So being in the bullpen doesn't affect my timing or my pitches or anything else. I've always got enough time, so I'm never rushed and it basically feels like a start for the most part. My goal is to make it to the big leagues and stay and help us win. Whatever way I can do that, it's all I ever care about. It doesn't have to be as a starter. I'm easy going."
He wasn't overselling, either. Our conversation was as breezy as they come.
We asked Bud Black whether or not Musgrave could earn a spot (eventually) specifically as a swingman on this roster sometime in the upcoming season. "Why not? Why not?" he responded. "You know what I like about this cat? Strike thrower, calm, good heartbeat, good slider, has the change to the righty, moves the fastball. He can be a great swingman."
In addition to the expert use of the word "cat" Black, after a fantastic diatribe about the history of other people who attended West Virginia, noted that he has been impressed with the way the lefty has responded to just about everything that has come his way this spring.
Then that night, Musgrave got his very first start against MLB competition, pitching three innings and giving up just one hit and zero runs, while striking out two. He has given up four runs in 11 innings pitched this spring. "It's pretty cool," he said. "First big league spring training start. Good for the experience."
A year ago, he pitched 113 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque with a 4.30 ERA, which is decent for the PCL. Before that, he tossed 40.1 innings for Double-A Hartford with a 1.79 ERA, which is more than decent for anywhere.
His name has been bandied about for both the bullpen and the rotation, but Harrison Musgrave made it clear to us that he really doesn't care for what reason his name is called, he just wants his name to be called.