Jon Gray's long-anticipated debut comes tonight against the Mariners, and it'll be fascinating to see how the highly-touted righty performs as he takes the mound. Jordan Freemyer wrote a great piece yesterday dispelling the nonsense that Gray has been rushed to the majors, which is in line what we've been hearing from the Rockies camp. Nick Groke's article yesterday regarding Gray's call-up contains some telling quotes from the Rockies director of player development, Zach Wilson, that echo the sentiment of Jordan's article. The Rockies played it safe with Gray, waiting until they were sure he was ready to pitch in the big leagues to call him up. Wilson said that despite intense pressure from both fans and media to bring Gray to the majors, the Rockies were going to send him only when they were positive the time was right, as they aren't looking to develop Gray into a MOTR guy, but the frontline starter we all know he can become.
What should we expect from Gray? I wanted to take a look at how pitchers with similar draft pedigrees did on their debuts. Another shoutout to Jordan, since I'm going to steal his list of the 13 college pitchers who were top 10 picks from 2010 to 2014. As noted in his article—Jordan's piece dispelling the notion that Gray has been rushed to the majors is linked above—eight of the 13 have made their debuts, with Gray set to become the ninth. Just to recap who those pitchers are, here's a table sorted by date of debut:
|Player Name||Draft Year||Date of MLB Debut|
|Drew Pomeranz||2010||September 11, 2011|
|Trevor Bauer||2011||June 28, 2012|
|Matt Harvey||2010||July 26, 2012|
|Kevin Gausman||2012||May 23, 2013|
|Gerrit Cole||2011||June 11, 2013|
|Andrew Heaney||2012||June 19, 2014|
|Carlos Rodon||2014||April 21, 2015|
|Aaron Nola||2014||July 21, 2015|
|Jon Gray||2013||August 4, 2015|
While Gray's performance tonight is absolutely no indication of how he'll pitch over his career, let alone his second start, I thought it'd be interesting just to see how the other guys pitched in their debuts. Each of the players listed above started in their debut, with the exception of Carlos Rodon who came on in relief. I didn't note it in the table, but it's worth mentioning here so as not to confuse his relief outing with a short start.
What's the takeaway from this table? That however Gray pitches tonight, we need to be realistic about our expectations moving forward. If he comes out firing and strikes out 11, it doesn't mean he's going to be the next Matt Harvey. Pomeranz had himself a fine debut for the Rockies, allowing no runs on just two hits over five innings, and then gave up 11 earned runs in 13.1 innings over his next three starts. While it is certainly justified to hold high expectations for Gray, given his draft pedigree and the obvious talent he possesses, it is important to not look too much into this evening's outing as a predictor of future success. It's just one outing—albeit an exciting one—out of hopefully many for Gray as a Colorado Rockie.
Having said that, I cannot wait to see him finally take the mound and if he pitches a gem I'll probably be the first to overreact. I've looked forward to today for a long time now. It's finally Gray Day!