Gray Looking for a Sunny April Day
Jon Gray has the ability to be a No. 1 starter.
Gray has the desire to be a No. 1 starter.
Now it's a matter of Gray taking that step forward and claiming the monicker: Ace of the Rockies Rotation.
The organization, obviously, feels that way. Gray was the pitcher set up to start the wild-card game against Arizona last October. He also has been the pitcher selected to start the season opener in 2016 and 2017.
That's where the frustration comes from for Gray and the Rockies.
That's what Gray would like to begin eroding when he gets the call in Game 1 of the Rockies weekend series against the Cubs at Coors Field Friday night, weather permitting.
The results, early in the season, don't match the expectation.
And it's not just this year. And it's not just when he gets deep in a game.
Gray gets it.
"I can be good 95 percent of the time, but not good five percent of the time," Gray said after his sixth-inning demise last Saturday against the Nationals. "I've got to find a way to be good."
The pattern has been established in the opening month of Gray's three big-league seasons.
He is a combined 1-3 in nine March/April starts with a 7.71 ERA.
He worked seven shutout innings at San Diego on April 4 for his one victory. In each of the three losses he has had a one-inning demise. In those innings, he has allowed 12 runs while retiring eight batters. He has allowed three runs in 19 innings the rest of the season.
"I can't stress how frustrating it is to go out and cruise and then let it all go to waste," said Gray.
The frustration isn't over ability. The frustration comes because there is enough history at the big-league level for Gray to know he can dominate at that level. The March/April portion of Gray's career is an outlier.
In the final five months of the season he has a combined ERA of 3.99, with no month higher than the 4.18 ERA of August compared to a 6.75 ERA in March/April. He has allowed a .315 batting average in March/April compared to .248 the rest of the season.
The Cubs provide him his next opportunity to start to change his April struggles. And it's not like either side has an edge in familiarity. The Cubs are the only National League team Gray has not faced in his big-league career.