A Darker Shade of Gray; Reason for Rockies' Concern

Jon Gray shows flashes of being an ace in the Rockies rotation.

That, however, is the problem. They are flashes. There is not the sustained success the Rockies envisioned based off the way Gray emerged in the final two months of 2017, when the team battled to hang on to a second wild-card spot.

For two months, he was the bell cow of the Rockies success.  He was 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA in his final 11 regular-season starts. Yes, the Rockies were 0-4 in the starts he didn't win, but he had at least given them the chance to win those games. His ERA in the four starts was 3.32.

There was only a glimpse of a carryover this year.

After stumbling through his first four starts of the season, Gray dominated in his next three games. He allowed one run in 20 innings -- a 0.45 ERA. He allowed 10 hits. He walked three batters. He struck out 25.

That, however, has not led to sustained success. In failing to even get out of the fourth inning in Rockies 9-4 loss at San Francisco on Saturday, he not only has lost back-to-back games, but he has allowed 11 runs and 19 hits in nine innings.

 "Jon does have a good arm and he does possess a good fastball and good stuff, to where he can rare back and get it done," said manager Bud Black. “But I think there has to be a little bit more pitching here; changing speeds and being able to move the ball around to minimize the damage. Today that didn’t happen. We need Jon to continue to grow and learn from these types of games.”

What this season has shown is that when Gray is good he is very, very good. When he is bad, it's very much a matter of concern for the Rockies. Gray is 4-0 in 10 starts. The Rockies lost the six other games. And it hasn't been a matter of pitching in bad luck.

Gray dominates in wins and the Rockies lose the rest of the time.

The Good, The Bad, It's Ugly

Victories
Date Opponent W L IP H R ER HR BB SO
4/4/2018 @SD W 5-2 1 0 7 4 0 0 0 0 7
4/25/2018 SD W 5-2 1 0 6 3 0 0 0 1 11
5/1/2018 @ChC W 3-1 1 0 7 3 1 1 1 1 6
5/8/2018 LAA W 4-2 1 0 7 4 0 0 0 1 8
W L INN H R ER HR BB SO
Totals 0.33 ERA 4 0 27 14 1 1 1 3 32
Losses
Date Opponent W L IP H R ER HR BB SO
3/29/2018 @Ari L 8-2 0 1 4 6 3 3 0 3 4
4/9/2018 SD L 7-6 0 1 5 10 7 7 2 1 6
4/14/2018 @Was L 6-2 0 1 5.2 8 5 5 1 1 6
4/20/2018 ChC L 16-5 0 1 5 8 7 6 1 3 1
5/13/2018 Mil L 7-3 0 1 5.1 10 6 6 1 1 10
5/19/2018 @SF L 9-4 0 1 3.2 9 5 5 0 1 4
W L INN H R ER HR BB SO
Totals 10.05 ERA 0 6 28.2 51 33 32 5 10 31

Source: Stats, Inc.

Gray isn't looking for a scapegoat. He accepts it is his responsibility to get things turned around, and at least have the Rockies in a position to win in the days he gets a no-decision.

“It was frustrating from the get-go, really,” Gray ad,mitted of Saturday's game in San Francisco. “I think sometimes I get worried about things I can’t control. I’m just going to focus on what I can. Just the 60 feet between me and the (hitter). That’s it.”

Ten of the 19 batters Gray faced reached base. Five of them scored.

“I think (Gray’s) command could have been a little better and he got unraveled a little quick,” catcher Tony Wolters told members of the media who were in the Rockies clubhouse after Saturday's game. “Jon needs to be able to turn the page quick. He’s getting better, at times, when he slows the game down and executes pitches. That’s all he should care about. Just be a robot out there. He needs to be a robot.”

It is not like Gray gets a "quick hook" even if he has averaged two innings fewer in games the Rockies have lost this year than in wins, and an inning less in losses than wins in his career. He has, after all, averaged only 5.9 pitches more per game in this year's wins, and 7.6 pitches more in wins than in game's the team has lost in his career.

2018 Games IP/GS P/GS
Wins 4 6.2 97.2
Losses 6 4.2 91.3
Career
Wins 30 6.1 95.7
Losses 38 5.1 88.1

Source: Stats, Inc.

And don't blame it on Coors Field. Gray's successes and failures are very similar home/road, although the ERA is higher at Coors Field. But then the Rockies scoring is higher at Coors Field. too. 

2018 W L G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA AVG
Home 2 3 5 28.1 35 20 19 4 7 36 6.04 0.302
Away 2 3 5 27.1 30 14 14 2 6 27 4.61 0.27
Career W L G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA AVG
Home 14 7 32 178.2 190 100 94 20 44 186 4.74 0.271
Away 10 15 36 196 193 99 95 18 72 214 4.36 0.259

Gray does, after all, have the second best winning percentage of any pitcher, who has made at least 23 starts at Coors Field since the addition of the humidor in 2002. His 14-7 record has one less loss than current rotation mate Chad Bettis, who is third. Tyler Anderson has the fourth-best Coors Field winning percentage in the humidor era.

Player Season W L Pct G GS IP ERA
Jorge De La Rosa 2008-2016(9) 53 20 0.726 106 99 574.2 4.31
Jon Gray 2015-2018(4) 14 7 0.667 32 32 178.2 4.74
Chad Bettis 2013-2018(6) 14 8 0.636 54 36 226.1 5.37
Ubaldo Jimenez 2006-2011(6) 30 19 0.612 67 66 419.2 3.67
Tyler Anderson 2016-2018(3) 9 6 0.6 23 22 136.1 3.5
Jason Jennings 2002-2006(5) 31 21 0.596 71 71 423 5.04
Juan Nicasio 2011-2014(4) 13 9 0.591 47 36 199.1 5.24
Josh Fogg 2006-2009(3) 11 9 0.55 42 29 178 5.87
Jeff Francis 2004-2013(8) 34 29 0.54 97 91 523.2 4.92
Aaron Cook 2002-2011(10) 36 32 0.529 122 104 681.1 4.65
Jhoulys Chacin 2009-2014(6) 23 23 0.5 68 61 374.1 4.21
Jason Hammel 2009-2011(3) 13 14 0.481 49 45 267.1 4.95
Shawn Chacon 2002-2005(4) 12 14 0.462 61 28 200.1 5.66
Tyler Chatwood 2012-2017(5) 17 20 0.459 53 44 254 5.17
Byung-hyun Kim 2005-2007(3) 10 12 0.455 36 27 169.2 4.56
Source: Stats Inc.

And since Opening Day 2016, when Gray became a full-time member of the rotation, he has a .700 winning percentage among pitchers who have made at least 10 starts at Coors Field. He trails only Antonio Senzatela, who is currently at Triple- A Albuquerque being stretched out to return to the rotation, and Chad Bettis, who have a .750 winning percentage compared to .700 for Gray. Gray, however, leads all starters in that stretch with 14 wins at Coors Field.

Player Season W L Pct G GS IP ERA
Chad Bettis 2016-2018(3) 9 3 0.75 22 22 128 4.5
Antonio Senzatela 2017-2018(2) 9 3 0.75 23 11 87 5.28
Jon Gray 2016-2018(3) 14 6 0.7 27 27 158 4.27
Tyler Anderson 2016-2018(3) 9 6 0.6 23 22 136.1 3.5
Jorge De La Rosa 2016-2016(1) 5 4 0.556 15 12 72.1 5.23
German Marquez 2016-2018(3) 7 6 0.538 20 19 108 5.17
Kyle Freeland 2017-2018(2) 8 9 0.471 22 19 106.1 3.3
Jeff Hoffman 2016-2017(2) 2 4 0.333 17 12 68.1 7.11
Tyler Chatwood 2016-2017(2) 7 16 0.304 31 26 148.1 6.07 Source: Stats, Inc.