A Gray Area; Rockies Send Jon To AAA to Find Consistency

Right-hander Jon Gray's potential is such that the Rockies selected him for the honor of starting the last two Opening Days. He was the pitcher they aligned the rotation to have ready to start in the wild-card game at Arizona last October.

In what is Gray's third season in the big leagues, however, the potential could not outweigh the inconsistency. Gray was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday. His roster spot was initially filled by calling up outfielder Raimel Tapia, giving manager Bud Black an extra player off the bench for the next three games.

Tapia hit .308 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI in 74 games at Albuquerque this year, and hit .283 in stints with the Rockies the past two seasons. 

On Tuesday, however, the Rockies will need someone to take Gray's spot in the rotation and start against the Giants at Coors Field. Antonio Senzatela, who opened the season in the Rockies bullpen but was sent to Triple-A the first week of May to build up the durability to be able to step into the rotation, is in place to be Gray's replacement.

Senzatela, like Gray, started on Thursday, albeit Senzatela started for the Isotopes. Pitching against Sacramento in Albuquerque, which like Denver has an altitude of roughly 5,280 feet, he worked 7 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk.

While he has battled a groin strain, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA in eight starts, and in the last three injury-free starts he is 3-0, having allowed two earned runs in 19 2/3 innings. The fact he was able to go 7 2/3 innings on Thursday would seem to underscore that he is healthy.

Senzatela's Albuquerque Adventure

DATE OPP W L IP H R ER HR BB SO
May 5 ELP 0 0 4 2 1 1 1 1 8
May 10 @RNO 1 0 5 4 0 0 0 2 4
May 15 @LV 1 0 5 5 3 3 0 1 6
May 26 @SAC 0 1 6 4 1 1 0 0 6
May 31 FRE 0 0 6 5 1 1 0 2 9
June 6 @IOW 0 0 0.2 2 2 2 0 2 0
Saturday @FRE 0 0 3.1 4 2 1 0 3 5
Thursday SAC 1 0 7.2 3 0 0 0 1 4
ERA 2.15 Totals 3 1 37.2 29 10 9 1 12 42

In this, his third big-league season, the inconsistency of Gray grew.

He would dominate teams on good days. He is 7-0 with a 2.57 ERA in the eight games he has started that the Rockies have won, and eliminate his no decision in Thursday's 9-8 victory when DJ LeMahieu delivered a two-run home run in the top of the ninth at AT&T Park, and he has a 1.80 ERA in the seven starts in which he has earned the win.

In the nine games he has started that the Rockies have lost, Gray's ERA is 9.42. Add in the no-decision at AT&T Park, and in the 10 games in which he was not credited with a win, Gray's ERA is 9.57.

Gray's Black and White

Losses Opponent Result L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO #Pit
March 29 Opponent L 8-2 1 6.75 4 6 3 3 0 3 4 86
April 9 SD L 7-6 1 10 5 10 7 7 2 1 6 83
April 14 @Was L 6-2 1 9.2 5.2 8 5 5 1 1 6 94
April 20 ChC L 16-5 1 9.61 5 8 7 6 1 3 1 82
May 13 Mil L 7-3 1 9.72 5.1 10 6 6 1 1 10 101
May 19 @SF L 9-4 1 10.05 3.2 9 5 5 0 1 4 78
May 30 SF L 7-4 0 10.13 3.1 6 4 4 0 3 5 91
June 12 @Phi L 5-4 1 9.47 6 3 4 4 1 4 10 108
June 17 @Tex L 13-12 0 9.42 5 6 6 5 1 1 9 92
L ERA INN H R ER HR BB SO #PIT
Totals 7 9.42 43 66 47 45 7 18 55 815
Wins Opponent Result W ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO #Pit
April 4 @SD W 5-2 1 0 7 4 0 0 0 0 7 93
April 25 SD W 5-2 1 0 6 3 0 0 0 1 11 101
May 1 @ChC W 3-1 1 0.45 7 3 1 1 1 1 6 96
May 8 LAA W 4-2 1 0.33 7 4 0 0 0 1 8 99
May 25 Cin W 5-4 1 1.36 6 6 4 4 1 3 8 100
June 6 @Cin W 6-3 1 1.89 5 7 3 3 0 3 5 101
June 22 Mia W 11-3 1 1.8 7 8 1 1 1 0 12 99
June 28 @SF W 9-8 0 2.57 4 7 5 5 1 2 7 71
W ERA INN H R ER HR BB SO #PIT
Totals 7 2.57 49 42 14 14 4 11 64 760

"Jon's inconsistency from game to game was a trouble for us," said manager Bud Black. "We would see flashes. ... Jon couldn't seem to get it together. He needs to understand he needs to pitch well."

The Rockies first-round pick in the 2013 draft -- the third player selected -- Gray is 27-23 in the big leagues, 27-21 if you exclude his late season debut in 2015 when he was 0-2 in nine starts. 

He set the franchise record with 16 strikeouts against the Padres on Sept. 17, 2016, two more strikeouts than the previous record set by Darryl Kile on Aug. 20, 1998 against the Expos.

Gray ranks second to Pedro Astacio with 12 games of 10-or-more strikeouts. Astacio had 15. Ubaldo Jimenez, with 10 multi-strikeout games as a member of the Rockies, is the only other player with a double-figure total

STEEEEEE-RIKE THREE

Career Total Single Games
Pitcher 10+ Ks Player Date Opp SO
Pedro Astacio 15 games Jon Gray 9/17/2016 SD 16
Jon Gray 12 games Darryl Kile 8/20/1998 Mon 14
Ubaldo Jimenez 10 games Shawn Chacon 6/7/2001 Hou 13
Jorge De La Rosa 6 games Ubaldo Jimenez 5/3/2010 SD 13
Tyler Anderson 2 games Pedro Astacio 9/14/1997 Atl 12
Tyler Chatwood 2 games Pedro Astacio 8/1/2000 ChC 12
John Thomson 2 games Jhoulys Chacin 6/27/2010 LAA 12
Darryl Kile 2 games Jorge De La Rosa 5/9/2009 Fla 12
German Marquez 2 games Jon Gray 6/5/2016 SD 12
Jon Gray 6/22/2018 Mia 12
Darryl Kile 8/30/1998 ChC 12
John Thomson 10/7/2001 SD 12

A year ago, Gray opened the season trying to pitch despite a stress fracture in his left foot. After three starts, in which he had no decisions but the Rockies won, Gray was placed on the disabled list. When he was activated on June 30 a year ago, the Rockies had reason to believe he turned the corner. 

In 17 starts the remainder of the season he was 10-4 with a 3.58 ERA. With the Rockies battling for the second wild-card spot, Gray had seven quality starts in his final nine starts of the regular season.

The Rockies expected Gray to build off that in 2018. The growth, however, did not happen, which led the organization to decide to send Gray back to Albuquerque to see if he could master the consistency necessary to succeed at the big-league level.

HOPES OF 2017

Date Opponent W L IP H R ER HR BB SO
6/30/2017 @Ari W 6-3 1 0 6 7 2 2 1 1 10
7/5/2017 Cin W 5-3 1 0 5.2 8 3 2 0 1 5
7/14/2017 @NYM L 14-2 0 1 2 9 8 8 0 3 1
7/19/2017 SD W 18-4 1 0 6 7 4 4 1 2 7
7/25/2017 @StL L 3-2 0 0 5 8 2 2 1 0 6
7/30/2017 @Was L 3-1 0 1 7 4 3 3 2 1 8
8/5/2017 Phi W 8-5 1 0 7 6 1 1 0 1 4
8/11/2017 @Mia L 6-3 0 0 5.2 8 3 3 1 2 4
8/16/2017 Atl W 17-2 1 0 6 5 2 2 0 2 6
8/22/2017 @KC L 3-2 0 1 6.2 6 3 2 0 1 6
8/27/2017 @Atl W 3-0 1 0 6 5 0 0 0 2 7
9/2/2017 Ari L 6-2 0 1 5 5 3 3 1 3 6
9/7/2017 @LAD W 9-1 1 0 6 4 1 1 0 2 3
9/12/2017 @Ari W 4-2 1 0 7 7 2 2 1 0 10
9/17/2017 SD L 4-3 0 0 5 2 0 0 0 1 7
9/22/2017 @SD W 4-1 1 0 6 5 1 1 0 1 8
9/27/2017 Mia W 15-9 1 0 6 6 3 3 1 0 5
W L INN H R ER HR BB SO
Totals ERA 3.58 10 4 98 102 41 39 9 23 103
Tracy RingolsbyComment