Colorado Rockies’ Pitcher Jon Gray Already Recognizes One Really Important Thing


Aug 10, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher J. Gray (55) pitches in the second inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies have a young starter who, it would seem, already recognizes one incredibly important thing about himself and Major League Baseball.

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The Colorado Rockies have a special kid in Jon Gray. No, this isn’t let’s-all-overreact-because-he-had-one-good-game special (though it was a nice game, until the bullpen took over!), this is more this-kid-has-some-special-tools kind of special.

Tools like… a fastball that has more life and velocity on it than any starter the Rockies have had in a long time, and a slider that — when it’s at its best — has a serious angular movement to it that can already fool big league hitters.

That all comes down to this fun little tidbit — which, by the way, was a velocity he also touched on the very last fastball he threw in the 6th inning tonight:

That’s the definition of filthy. And no, he won’t be able to command that every night like he did on Monday against the Mets, but Gray’s outing Monday showed us, the Rockies, and hopefully Gray himself one huge thing: he has big league stuff, and he can compete right now in the Majors with his arsenal.

You could almost see the wheels turning in his head at Citi Field as he recognized it: with the stuff he’s got, if he attacks hitters, more often than not he’s going to have a lot of success in the big leagues. It’s really that simple, because he’s got a special arm.

Sure, there will be growing pains, and you can absolutely expect him to get ripped some days, and have his command completely fail him on others. That’s just something that’s going to happen with a young pitcher, and it very well might happen in his next start in Denver against the Padres.

But that pitch arsenal, man.

Here’s the thing: Gray should be realizing, and hopefully Monday night taught him, that he’s not a guy who’s going to have to nibble or dance around hitters with what he’s got in the tank. When he’s tossing a 94-98 mph fastball and a slider that runs anywhere from 85-89 mph, the strike zone expands for him — inward. In other words, he can catch more plate and get away with it (just like you saw on Monday) than, say, Chris Rusin or Yohan Flande, or anyone else who doesn’t have the same stuff as Gray.

The sooner Gray realizes that, the more efficient he is going to be from the very beginning of his career, and the more diametrically opposed he’ll be to Eddie Butler‘s first dozen or more starts for the Rockies. Butler is the definition of an inefficient young pitcher, and going five innings for him has been a chore in every single start he’s had this year.

Gray, on the other hand, cruised through six and was only pulled due to a pitch count the Rockies are implementing to cushion his second full season in professional baseball and prepare him for 2016 (and that’s OK; it’s not like the Rox are playing for anything else). Hopefully, Gray learned from that — and learned more than just how to set up big league hitters and pitch against certain batters; hopefully he learned (if he didn’t already know) that he absolutely belongs in the big leagues, and he’s got the stuff to pitch here for a long, long time.

No, nobody’s predicting a Cy Young Award or a World Series (let’s not get dumb and overreact), but Jon Gray absolutely sent a message Monday night, even if it were against an admittedly light-hitting team: he’s a big leaguer, without a doubt. The more he attacks hitters and pitches efficiently with the arsenal of stuff that he has, and the more you’re going to see him nail down a roster spot in Colorado for a long time to come.

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