The Colorado Rockies could very well start the 2016 season without one of their promising young starting pitchers.
The injury suffered by top pitching prospect Jon Gray in a Cactus League game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday has been revealed by an MRI as an abdominal strain, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding. While there is no timetable for Gray's return, this type of injury will require at least some rehab, Harding added.
Given that only 12 days remain until the start of the regular season, it's highly unlikely that Gray will be ready to go when the Rockies kick off 2016 in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gray was removed from the game after attempting to field a comebacker and make an ensuing throw to second base just three batters into his fifth Cactus League appearance. The 24-year-old right-hander has posted a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts and eight walks in 11⅔ spring innings. Last season, in his first taste of big league action, Gray finished with a 5.53 ERA (85 ERA+) across 40⅔ frames, striking out 40 batters and walking 14.
Assuming Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Bettis, Jordan Lyles and Tyler Chatwood comprise the remainder of the Rockies' Opening Day rotation, the door could be open for Yohan Flande or Christian Bergman to begin the season as the No. 5 starter. Both pitchers have performed well this spring and, regardless, should have the inside track on the job over Chris Rusin, who has yet to appear in a game this spring while dealing with inflammation in the middle finger of his throwing hand.
Bergman could be the prohibitive favorite between the two since Flande is not currently on the 40-man roster and the team might already need to create a spot for outfielder Ryan Raburn, who is a good bet to start the year as the Rockies' fourth outfielder.
It's also worth noting that because of customary early season days off to protect against weather postponements, the Rockies don't technically need a fifth starter until April 18. That could result in the team going with four starters to begin the year, although a probable workload restriction for Chatwood might lead to sticking to the traditional five.
In short, even though the season starts in less than two weeks, there's still a lot that can happen until then. Hopefully very few -- if any -- of those things are bad, as is the case with Gray's injury.