Jon Gray Continues to Grow, Mature on Mound for Rockies
Make no mistake about it, Jon Gray has taken his pitching skills to the proverbial next level during the Colorado Rockies road trip through the National League West.
There have been plenty of naysayers during Gray’s first 13 starts in the Rockies rotation, but the 2013 first-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma came into the 2016 season believing things would be different than they were in 2015 when he posted a 0-2 record and 5.53 ERA in nine starts. So far, May is showing that Gray’s beliefs may have been accurate.
After struggling through his first two starts in April with an 11.42 ERA, Gray has stormed through May with a 1.38 ERA, allowing just five hits and two earned runs in 13 innings. That includes a one-hit, seven-inning performance in Saturday’s 2-1 extra-inning loss at the San Francisco Giants.
Yes, Gray is still looking for his first big league win as has been well documented, but the growth that the rookie hurler has shown this season is impressive. He’s retired 35 of the last 39 batters he has faced and is learning from each outing, as he told me recently.
“I look at the things I can improve upon,” Gray explained following his recent solid outing in San Diego. “There are some things I can remember but it’s also trying to remember what it was that made you good. Trying to remember the feeling and how it felt with delivery and direction and release of the ball. It’s more of a feel thing. The day after, it’s building up for the next one. It’s looking on.”
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The Rockies have only given Gray one run of support in his last 17.2 innings pitched, but he’s not focused on that. He’s concentrating on what he needs to do on the mound to become a better pitcher. The things that seemed to gnaw at him when he spoke to the media last season after starts are things don’t appear to be as bothersome in 2016. That’s a sign of maturity and a good sign for one of the cornerstones of Colorado’s rotation of the present and future.
Absolutely, Jon Gray will have rough outings ahead … as will every MLB pitcher. However, with an ever-improving slider and curveball to go along with a decimating fastball, the 24-year-old Gray is proving that he’s learning and maturing. That’s a scary thought for National League opponents.
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The wins will come for Gray, but that’s not the most important thing right now for him personally or even the Rockies organization. Evolving into the pitcher the Rockies envisioned him to be is much more important than any personal win-loss record.