Jon Gray wants to be for the Rockies what Clayton Kershaw is for the Dodgers. And it is possible – real possible. Gray has the physical talents to be that dominate No. 1 in a rotation for a contending team. It just doesn’t happen overnight very often. And it didn’t happen at a snap of the fingers for Kershaw.
There are growing pains, like the Rockies 14-2 loss to the Mets at Citi Field on Friday night. Gray gave up eight runs and failed to retire a batter in the third inning. It was the 22nd time in Rockies history that a starting pitchers retired six or fewer batters in a game and allowed eight or more runs – the eighth time it has happened on the road.
Consider the case of the five starting pitchers, who averaged more than 13 wins a season, with the best composite winning percentages in the last decade:
Now, onsider how their careers began:
–Kershaw was 13-13 with a 3.40 ERA in his first 51 starts (2008-09). In his 231 starts since then he is 127-49 with a 2.18 ERA.
–Greinke was 16-34 with a 4.76 ERA in 71 starts (2004-07). In his 225 starts since then he is 129-35 with a 2.44 ERA.
–Adam Wainwright spent his rookie season (2006) in the bullpen and was 14-12 with a 3.70 ERA in 32 starts in 2007. In his 208 starts since he is 128-68 with a 3.21 ERA.
–Roy Halladay, who retired after the 2013 season, was 15-15 with a 4.95 ERA from 1998-2001, which included a stretch in which he was sent back to the minors. In the final 12 seasons of his career (2002-13) he was 185-88 with a 3.17 ERA.
–Max Sherzer was 21-26 with a 3.75 ERA in his first three big-league seasos. Since 2011 he is 114-48 with a 3.18 ERA.
Now that doesn’t insure eventual domination for Gray, but it does serve as a warning to accept the fact that there is a learning curve that even the elite pitchers face in the big leagues. And Gray has shown the potential to make that next step.
He is motivated to be dominate. He has the tools to be dominate. And he is competitive.
The late Hal Keller, one of the top talent evaluators of his time who was particularly successful in finding power pitchers, explained more than once, “I can’t tell how good a player can be until I see how bad he can be.”
Confused. Don’t be. Keller’s point is that everyone who plays the game will be humbled. The good ones take the failure as a challenge and get better.
And Gray has given every indication that he can handle a challenge.
Yes he is 12-13 with a 4.95 ERA and outsiders are quick to moan about the challenge he faces at Coors Field. He, however, has welcomed the challenge of Coors Field.
Gray is 8-3 with a 4.84 ERA at Coors Field and for those who say pitchers wins aren’t important it can be added the team is 9-5 when Gray starts at Coors Field. Meanwhile he is 4-10 with a 5.05 ERA on the road. The Rockies are 6-17 in his road starts, but they had won three in a row before the game in New York.
And he can look back at Friday night as a challenge.
The 22 times a Rockies starting pitcher allowed eight or more runs in two innings or fewer, including five times against the Mets (road games are in bold):
|Darryl Kile||7/2/1998||at Mariners||2||10||10|
|Denny Neagle||7/2/2002||vs. Giants||2||10||10|
|John Thomson||4/11/1998||vs. Reds||2||9||9|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||8/9/2007||vs. Cubs||2||9||9|
|Jorge De La Rosa||4/20/2015||vs. Padres||2||9||7|
|Mark Knudson||5/6/1993||vs. Braves||1||8||8|
|Bryn Smith||5/16/1993||at Reds||1/3||8||8|
|Bill Swift||5/27/1995||at Pirates||2||8||7|
|Bret Saberhagen||10.11.1995||vs. Gaints||2||8||6|
|Mark Thompson||5/11/1996||at Marlins||1 1/3||8||8|
|Mark Thompson||5/24/1996||vs. Reds||2||8||8|
|Marvin Freeman||7/4/1996||at Dodgers||2||8||8|
|Marvin Freeman||8/5/1996||vs. Marlins||2||8||8|
|Jamey Wright||4/18/1997||vs. Braves||2||8||8|
|Brian Bohanon||5/7/2001||vs. Mets||2||8||8|
|Shawn Chacon||8/16/2003||at Mets||1 1/3||8||8|
|Josh Fogg||8/30/2006||vs. Mets||1 1/3||8||8|
|Kip Wells||7/21/2008||vs. Angels||1/3||8||8|
|Guillermo Moscoso||6/26/2012||vs. Nationals||1 2/3||8||8|
|Jorge Rodon||5/1/2015||at Padres||0||8||7|
|Jon Gray||7/14/2017||at Mets||2||8||8|