Colorado Rockies: Who takes the mound in a must win game?
By Aaron Hurt
The Colorado Rockies lost the important 3-games series to the Dodgers over the weekend, shrinking their division lead to the slimmest of margins.
As disappointing as it may be, if anything, this weekend series answered one of the biggest questions should they make playoffs. If the Rockies are faced with a winner-take-all situation, who takes the mound as the starting pitcher?
With any luck, the Rockies will win the NL West and won’t have to worry about it, but if they do fall into the Wild Card game, they will have to make a huge decision between Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, and German Marquez getting the starting nod.
Patrick Saunders and Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post debated this very question last month but a lot more has been learn since then.
For as good as Marquez has been in the second half of the season, he is the least likely of the three to be handed the ball. His 9.00 ERA in the first inning is not what the Rockies want to start off in a win or go home situation. So let’s move on to Gray and Freeland.
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In the past year, Jon Gray has pitched in 3 games that were relatively high stress games: The Wild Card game last season, Opening Day this season, and Friday night opposite Clayton Kershaw.
In those games, Gray is 0-3, giving up 9 earned runs, 17 hits, striking out 8, and walking 8 in only 9.1 innings of work.
On the other hand, Kyle Freeland has been untested with only Saturday night’s game opposite Walker Buehler being a playoff quality type game. Freeland, of course, pitched a solid game going 6 innings, giving up 1 run, and striking out 8 to earn the win.
Looking at season stats, there is no comparison between the two. Freeland is by far the best starting pitcher on the team. Gray has pitch extremely well since being recalled from the minors in July but Freeland has been even better in the second half.
Since the break, Freeland has a 2.52 ERA in 10 starts, while Gray has a 3.41 ERA in 9 starts.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
This all may not matter with the NL Wild Card game being played on a Tuesday which Bud Black would have to factor in days rest.
Forbid the Rockies don’t have to get to that decision and win the NL West outright but if they get into a win or go home game, Kyle Freeland should be handed the baseball.