Jon Gray rejoins the Colorado Rockies rotation…for now
DENVER – The Colorado Rockies were forced to make a roster move on Friday, and it forced their hand at some more action for Saturday.
Right-handed pitcher Antonio Senzatela was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a blister on his right middle finger. Senzatela told Rox Pile and other members of the media that the blister started hurting the morning after, Wednesday, his side day. He woke up on Thursday and it was infected. The injury is not from his last start and it effects the way he throws his slider.
Manager Bud Black was hopeful that he will only miss this start with the All-Star break upcoming on Monday.
The Rockies also have another starter shelved with a blister on his throwing hand and that’s Chad Bettis. Colorado was hopeful that he would be able to rejoin the rotation on Saturday but as the weekend came closer, it became more clear it was going to happen. Currently, the Rockies have been operating with a four-man rotation for about 10 days.
Once top pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman was recalled to spot start for Senzatela on Friday, albeit the original plan B after Bettis may have been him to pitch on Saturday, it forced the Rockies hand. The Rockies will recall their once ace Jon Gray from Triple-A—as well—to start on Saturday.
To recap, the Rockies scratched and DL’d Senzatela, recalled Hoffman to start the series opener with Seattle, and will bring back Gray to pitch on Saturday. A corresponding roster move will be made tomorrow too.
The Rockies are confident in his ability to make a spot start as he’s done it before. He has not started this season in the majors but has bounced between the MLB bullpen and Triple-A rotation. He last started in the bigs on Aug. 17, 2017 vs. Atlanta before finishing the 2017 season as a reliever. In his time starting, he went 6-5 with a 5.28 ERA with 33 walks and 71 strikeouts across 16 games.
In 2018, he has been tasked with short work in the bullpen and has allowed six earned runs in five-and-a-third innings. In the minors, he’s made 12 starts to the tune of a 3.97 ERA and 3-4 record.
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The Rockies Opening Day starter was demoted to Triple-A before the end of June. In 17 starts this season, he has a 7-7 record and 5.77 ERA. The disparity between his ERA and FIP, however, is the largest in the history of baseball. Gray has been both knocked by bad luck at the worst times and mishaps in performance in big spots. By WAR and many other metrics, he’s been one of the best pitchers in the game–by other metrics he’s been one of the worst. Ultimately, the Rockies demoted him to work on these issues.
He made two starts for Triple-A Albuquerque and I watched each closely.
In the first game, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against El Paso before letting up a home run immediately after a tough hit found a hole. This was a knock against him as the stretch is where a lot of the damage has come against him.
In the second start, he struggled to throw many strikes and walked four while failing to pitch five innings and running his pitch count above the century mark. Gray said he felt good and that he was throwing the ball right but was just off on that day.
Velocity and mental approach were things that Gray was struggling with in the majors, he told Rox Pile and other media members, and he said that he felt both of these things have improved.
The Rockies made it rather clear that Gray has not yet earned a spot back in the Rockies rotation for the second half meaning Saturday’s start will both hinge a ton of the Rockies near-term plans as well as where Gray factors in.
He will be working on normal rest.
Next: Could the Rockies look to trade Carlos Gonzalez?
Coincidentally, Gray made his last start for the ‘Topes against Seattle’s farm club, the Tacoma Rainiers, and Christian Bergman started that game on Sunday. Bergman starts for the Mariners tonight in the series opener.