Jon Gray isn’t afraid of Coors Field. In an interview at the Rockies spring training facility, Gray stated that, yes, he did think he could become the best pitcher in Rockies history, and it’s because he’s done shying away from the team’s home ballpark.
In one of the most impressive pitching performances the franchise has ever seen, Gray fanned 16 Padres in a four-hit shutout, without surrendering a walk. The kind of unrelenting dominance that has only shown up at Coors Field a handful of times in its history. For pitching coach Steve Foster, the title will take experience to tell, but Gray’s talent is undeniable.
Trevor Story is itching to get back to baseball after a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb cut his historic rookie season short. The young shortstop plans to limit the number of head-first slides he takes, though he won’t let that goal get in the way of situational needs. Story’s aggressive style of play made his breakout rookie season a thrill for fans, but in addition to the injury, Story also racked up a 31.3 percent strikeout rate. Rockies manager Bud Black told media he wants to see Story stick to emphasizing a situational approach as he heads into his second major league season.
Carlos Estevez showed flashes of brilliance in his first taste of the big leagues last summer, when just a year before he split his season between Modesto and New Britain. Estevez’s speedy rise to the majors saw him thrown right into the fire after injuries to veteran relievers landed the then 23-year old righty with the closer role. Estevez performed well until an issue in his delivery began affecting his outcomes. After taking the offseason to sort it out, Estevez is confident in his mechanics, and willing to pitch wherever the Rockies need him.
The NL West appears to be on the brink of a sort of sans-the-Padres Golden Age, in which the competition is sure to produce some exciting baseball throughout the length of the season. The Dodgers and Giants still claim the top spots, according to Rian Watt of Vice Sports, but the Diamondbacks and Rockies are no longer forces to overlook. Watt has her concerns about the state of the Rockies’ starting rotation (read: few nice things to say about Chad Bettis), but is intrigued at the potential of Jon Gray to become the Rockies’ ace.