Rockies Add Veteran Lefty Joe Beimel

The NL wild card-leading Rockies made a move to shore up their bullpen, acquiring 32-year-old lefthanded situational reliever Joe Beimel from the Nationals. Colorado sent righthanders Ryan Mattheus, 25, and Robinson Fabian, 23, to Washington.

After struggling to start the season and then embarking on a 17-for-18 run in June, the Rockies were buyers are the trade deadline. Though they didn’t reel in a big name pitcher, bringing in Beimel and Rafael Betancourt should help Colorado’s bullpen. Beimel has experience in the NL West, havnig spent the past three seasons in the Dodgers’ bullpen. In 45 games for the Nationals this year, Beimel was 1-5, 3.40 with 24 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings pitched. 

Beimel uses a three-pitch mix: a mid-80s fastball, a low-70s curveball and a 78-81 mph changeup. In the past, he had made a living by keeping the ball down in the zone and inducing ground balls. He had gotten in trouble in 2009 by leaving the ball up, and often times hanging his curveball, which is his best pitch when it’s low in the zone. 

The Young
Mattheus tore a ligament in his elbow and had Tommy John surgery earlier this month. A Rockies’ 19th-round draft-and-follow in 2003, he spent the first four years of his career as a starter. During 2008 spring training, however, Mattheus impressed then-manager Clint Hurdle with his ability to consistently pound the strike zone. In his first full season as a reliever, Mattheus went 2-5, 3.28 for Double-A Tulsa and recorded 17 saves in 58 innings pitched, while striking out 56. Before succumbing to injury this year, he was 1-3, 3.81 with 27 strikeouts in 26 innings between three levels.

Mattheus, 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, is strong and powerful. Not having to pitch every fifth day and extend his arm, he flashed more velocity on his fastball, which reached the mid-90s. More often, he sits 90-92 mph. He also throws a hard sinker and a plus low-80s slider. Given that repertoire, Mattheus had success against opposing righthanded hitters, but struggled against lefthanders. If he returns to his pre-injury form, the Nationals could have a solid bullpen arm. He’s a bit older and has fought injuries in the past, but Mattheus has the stuff to be a solid contributor.

Fabian is a raw, lanky righthander who was signed by the Rockies in 2003 out of the Dominican Republic when he was 17. He stands 6-foot-3, weighs 152 pounds and features an electric arm. Fabian sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and it has touched 97 mph. Though he has the stuff to be an effective pitcher, Fabian needs to work on the little things, such as fielding his position, before progressing. He has a long way to go before he reaches the big leagues, and at this point, he’s more of a thrower than a pitcher.

For low Class A Asheville, Fabian was 3-6, 6.24 in 83 2/3 innings. He made 24 appearances, exactly half of them as a starter, though he projects better as a reliever. For the Tourists, Fabian struck out 54 and walked 21 batters. Last year for Asheville, Fabian went 4-6, 5.38 with 59 strikeouts in 72 innings.

Though the rival Dodgers acquired the best lefthanded reliever on the market in George Sherrill, the Rockies received a serviceable reliever for high-leverage, left-on-left matchups. Washington clearly isn’t going anywhere this season. Though the team says it is not rebuilding, it had little need for Beimel. Even so, it will take time before the Nationals reap any benefits from the deal.

Colorado reportedly tried to sign Beimel in the
offseason, but the two sides could not reach an agreement. He ultimately signed a one-year deal with the
Nationals, but now he makes his way to Denver to team with Huston
Street and Betancourt in the Rockies’ improved relief corps.