Ask any baseball fan what part of their team frustrates them the most. Roughly twelve thousand percent of them will answer: the bullpen.

We often remember when they blow it and forget when they don’t. It’s one of the toughest jobs in sports and nowhere is the job harder than in the thin air and vast expanse in Colorado.

You may be inclined to think the Rockies haven’t had any great relievers, but the following pitchers have overcome more obstacles than most.

These are my picks for the Colorado Rockies Top 10 Relievers of All Time.

To help keep some stats in context, note that Ubaldo Jimenez is tops in franchise history in ERA with 3.66 and the park-and-league-adjusted ERA+ with 128.

Let’s see how the relievers stack up:

10. Adam Ottavino

It was never smooth sailing for Otto in Denver. His tenure is marred by injuries and a few dreadful moments… but his work in 2018 as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball came at just the right time to help guide the Rockies to their second-best win total ever. His 195 ERA+ that season ranks as one of the best single seasons in club history and his 112 strikeouts remain a Rockies reliever record.

9. Scott Oberg


Like Ottavino, Oberg doesn’t have a long list of accomplishments in Colorado, but he does have one of the most distinguished, striking out the final four Chicago Cubs who came to the plate in the 2018 National League Wild Card game, sealing the Rockies most important Save since 2009.

Putting up a 193 ERA+ in 2018 and eye-popping 230 ERA+ in 2019, Oberg produced maybe the most impressive back-to-back campaigns for any Rockies reliever ever. Even more so when you note that he did all that while the rest of the bullpen around him was completely falling apart.

8. Darren Holmes


Younger fans may remember Holmes as the coach for the first two guys on this list but back in 1995 he was a part of maybe the most dominant ‘pen the mountain range has seen.

He averaged an ERA+ of 116 over five years at altitude but his best came in that fated first postseason for the Rox wherein he posted an ERA+ of 166 and collected 14 Saves. 

He gets extra points for finding consistency and excellence in the pre-humidor/steroid era and for returning years later to keep trying to solve the puzzle at 20th and Blake.

7. Manny Corpas


Yes, this is all about 2007. It was easily the best year in Rockies history and also Manny Corpas history. And those two things were not unrelated.

When the stalwart and captain of the bullpen (first on this list) lost his way midseason, Clint Hurdle turned to a closer who had only 32 innings of work before that year.

Corpas went on an absolute tear over 78 innings, putting up a 2.08 ERA and a 232 ERA+ and recording 19 saves. He got even better in the postseason, tossing 10.1 innings with an 0.87 ERA, seven strikeouts to zero walks, and five more saves. 

Without Manny Corpas, “Rocktober” would probably just be a German music festival.

6. Bruce Ruffin

If you don’t know him, think of Bruce Ruffin as the Jorge De La Rosa of the bullpen. Somehow, after having only decent seasons elsewhere, the big lefty found himself both literally and figuratively in Denver in his 30s. 

After a decent year starting, he moved to relief full time, and while he ironically was never able to pick up a ton of innings, he pitched with exceptional quality, averaging a 133 ERA+ over five seasons. Though he only contributed 34 innings, he too was a part of the vaunted ‘95 ‘pen, posting an ERA of 2.12 and picking up 11 Saves.

5. Rafael Betancourt

Betancourt had one of the unlikeliest careers in Rockies history. After nearly a decade of fantastic work in Cleveland he came to Colorado and, get this, just kept being pretty much the exact same pitcher he had always been. Weird, right?

The Venezuelan righty spent ages 34-40 with the Rockies and posted an ERA of 3.53 and an ERA+ of 131. Despite spending only one season as the club’s primary closer, he still ranks sixth in franchise history with 58 Saves. It may have taken him forever to finally throw a pitch, but once he eventually did, it was usually a pretty good pitch.


4. Huston Street

2009 was the most successful regular season in Rockies history thanks in large part to the fact that their closer, Houston Street, blew only two saves during the season, converting 35.

His 84 total saves in Colorado rank third all-time and his 3.53 ERA is second best. He spent only three seasons in Denver, all of them well above the league average. In fact, throughout his entire career, he posted an incredible ERA+ of 141, 133 for the Rox, and had only one season, the very last of his 13-year career, in which he was below average.

3. Jose Jimenez

One of the biggest reasons for doing lists like this is for players like Jose Jimenez.

Forgotten a bit to history, his 102 Saves from 2000-2003 rank second in team history. His raw 4.13 ERA made him tough to endear to fans and media but an ERA+ of 126 shows a reliever who handled pre-humidor/steroid-era Coors Field better than almost anyone. His first three seasons were dominant with 199 innings pitched at a 149 ERA+ clip. 

If ever there was a player who Rockies fans wish they could transport off the team he was on into a different era where his contributions would have made a dramatic difference, his name is Jose Jimenez.

2. Steve Reed

If we didn’t have statistics to prove it, I would not believe you that Steve Reed’s career ever happened. Never the closer for Colorado, he recorded only 15 saves in a Rockies uniform. So, why is he so high on this list?

He pitched 15 innings as a rookie for San Francisco before becoming a member of the inaugural Rockies in 1993 and putting up a pair of pretty good seasons, especially when viewed through an historic lens. Then, in 1995, he anchored the best bullpen in history by appearing in 71 games, throwing 84 innings, and posting an ERA+ of 251!

He cooled off but remained more than quality for two more seasons before bouncing around the league for six years. Then, things get really strange. Somehow, he returned to Colorado at age 38 and posted another two years of well above average relief.

All told, he threw 499 innings over seven seasons for the Rockies with an ERA+ of 166. He struck out 352 and walked 67. Every Rockies team ever could have used Steve Reed.

1. Brian Fuentes

His teammates called him Tito. His statistics call him easily the greatest Rockies reliever ever.

He comfortably sits in first place in franchise history in Saves, with 115, games finished, with 243, ERA at 3.38 and is second ERA+ at 144 behind only Reed. He appeared in three All-Star games and had just one below average season over seven campaigns in Colorado.

Though he did lose his closer job to Manny Corpas in 2007, terrible timing for him personally, the team arguably never would have made Rocktober happen if he hadn’t so graciously and capably taken over the set-up role without causing any issues.

In a place where plenty of pitchers have been chewed up and spit out with reckless abandon, Brian Fuentes both endured and dominated, making himself the best pitcher that any Colorado Rockies skipper has called for out of the bullpen.