Rockies Year in Review: Jon Gray
Here at Rox Pile, we are starting a player review for each and every player that suited up in a Colorado Rockies uniform this season. This series will be going all the way up until Dec. 15 with player profiles posted every day.
Today, we are featuring Rockies starting pitcher Jonathan Gray.
Jon Gray brought the most excitement I’ve ever seen for a Rockies pitching début. #GrayDay finally game on that fateful August afternoon after months of pining for our beloved top prospect to appear for the big club, and it was glorious. For the first few starts, it was special to watch.
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In his first three starts, Gray had a 2.40 ERA, a 0.933 WHIP, and 14 strikeouts in 15 innings, highlighted by a 6-inning, 75 pitch gem where he struck out five, walked two, gave up one hit and one run. Gray looked a little wild in the starts, but his stuff was making up for his misses. He was keeping hitters off-balance and staying aggressive with the pitch selection and looked as dominant as you could hope for.
Gray’s fourth start was, well, bad numerically. 1.2 IP, 7 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit by pitch and zero strikeouts. If you watch the start, though, six of those eight hits were softly hit balls that just found openings in the defense. He was battling through that start and Yoenis Cespedes took a slider down and away and flicked it over the right field fence; more of a show of hitting prowess than pitching mistakes. Sure, this game ballooned his stats for the rest of the year, but don’t let the numbers scare you. He pitched well for a 23-year-old Rookie.
9 GS | 40.2 IP | 5.40 ERA | 3.86 FIP | 1.623 WHIP | 40 K |14 BB
Gray’s stuff is excellent. It’s obvious after watching a few pitches from this guy. His fastball has a lot of movement at 96, the slider is deadly, and the changeup is coming along after working on it all season in Albuquerque (AAA). You look at his ERA, the common pitching statistic, and think; man, he had a rough rookie season. As I’ve said before, FIP is a better evaluating tool for pitching performance than ERA and it still holds true here. Gray’s FIP was 3.86, a number more representative of what I saw from Gray than his 5.53 ERA. His strikeout numbers were great, he only gave up four home runs in 40+ innings, struck out 40, and walked 14. All of those numbers are going to get better over the next few years.
The hardest part about watching Gray pitch this year was the short least he was working with. All I wanted was to see Gray let loose; not worry about a pitch limit and just fire away. Pitch counts and young pitchers are found next to each other in the baseball dictionary; they exist together in today’s baseball and there’s no changing that. I want Gray to have a long, successful, injury-free career, but I long for the one start where Gray cuts loose and just dominates a game.
Jon Gray isn’t the solution; he’s the beginning. The start of the influx of young hopefuls trying to make an impact for the big league squad. Gray is what Eddie Butler, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Matzek, and countless others tried to be; a young pitcher living up to the hype.
Overall Grade: B for performance/A+ for hype
Next: Ian Kennedy in a Rockies Uniform?
Ian Kennedy is a familiar, yet unexpected guy that should be on the Rockies radar this offseason. In 843 innings in NL West parks, he has a career 3.12 ERA while starting for the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. Could he be another De la Rosa?