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Tyler Kinley of the Rockies, displaying a sharp silder, shining in the bullpen

Ask Daniel Bard about prepper Tyler Kinley and the first thing Bard says is this:

“He’s a guy who just wants to throw. He wants the ball every night, regardless of the score. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy who wants the ball as much as Tyler. If he goes three days without throwing, he gets angry.

If the Rockies could actually use Kinley every night, he would be a huge boost for their bullpen. For a fifth of the season, the right-hander was one of the best relievers in baseball.

He entered Monday night’s game against the Giants at Coors Field with a .68 ERA, which is the lowest by a Rockies reliever in the first 15 appearances of a season since Adam Ottavino posted. a 0.56 ERA at the start of the 2018 season. Kinley had held opponents scoreless in 14 of 15 appearances and allowed just nine hits, including eight in singles.

“His approach is unique, especially the way he gets straight to the top,” said Bard, who has been Kinley’s throwing partner since they both joined the Rockies in 2020. a four-seam fastball and sink. the ball. His slider is very good and he also learned how to change its shape. I think it’s just a very uncomfortable at-bat.

One of Kinley’s strengths is his ability to attack batters from both sides of home plate. Going into Monday night’s game against San Francisco, lefties were only hitting .095 against him, righties were hitting .250. In his career, he limited left-handers to an average of 0.187 and right-handers to 0.257.

“I’m happy with my consistency,” said Kinley, 31, now in his fifth major league season. “I’ve been in the zone and attacked guys, and for the most part I’ve been able to let my stuff play. And I was better at making quick adjustments.

“There’s not one thing I can put my finger on (my success) against southpaws. But I know when I was pitching in the minor leagues, I discovered how important games were. I’ve been preached that if you want to stay in the big leagues, you have to bring out the right-handers and the left-handers.

Kinley throws an elite four-seam that can hit 97 mph and get in the zone, and a hard 90 mph slider that works against both right-handers and left-handers. He’ll throw an occasional sinker to cross hitters.

Kinley said that at times he threw a more biting slider in previous seasons. The difference now is that he knows how to use the pitch better.

“I’m getting really good at manipulating my slider and getting the action I want against guys’ swings,” Kinley said. “I’ve put him in some good places, whether it’s in the zone or a bit against some guys.”

Manager Bud Black sees Kinley’s ability to shape his slider as a sign of a fully mature pitcher.

“In my mind, it’s called throwing,” Black said. “It comes with a comfort level and a confidence level of who you are. More than ever, he throws and does not throw. I think there was a bit of that in the past where he would just release it with power and just throw. Now he throws.

Followed by Tovar. Shortstop prospect Ezequiel Tovar is off to a strong start with Double-A Hartford, hitting .295 (36 for 122) in 31 games with six home runs, 11 stolen bases, 22 RBIs and a .909 OPS.

Earlier this season, the 20-year-old Tovar was named Eastern League Player of the Week when he hit .478 with two home runs, two triples and four RBIs. At some point this season, he will be promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Chris Forbes, director of player development for the Rockies, said Monday that Tovar already has the defensive tools to play in the majors, but added that Tovar isn’t ready to face major league pitchers and won’t make his debut with the Rockies this season.

“I could see him catching the ball here tonight,” Forbes said. “Defensively, he is ready. But it will just be a matter of making the (offensive adjustments). »

Still, Tovar continues to display the promise he showed in spring training when he was named camp MVP after hitting .550 (11 in 20) with three homers and a 1.650 OPS in 10 games. .

“He’s playing extremely well right now, and he’s only 20 and playing in a men’s league in this Eastern league,” Forbes said. “You can see it, just the way he moves and the confidence.”

But there were also hard knocks. Last Friday, for example, Tovar went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts against the Portland Seadogs. Forbes said it’s always eager to see how prospects learn from their failures.

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