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Jon Gray entering Opening Day for the Rockies in regular-season form

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Rockies news and links for March 27, 2018

Gray steamrolling toward expected OD nod | Rockies.com
Rockies Manager Bud Black has yet to announce his Opening Day starting pitcher, making the Rox the only team that has yet to do so as of this writing. While, obviously, nothing is official, it would come as a surprise if it is not Jon Gray.

Even if he had experienced struggles this Spring, Gray would have been the probable choice to start on Thursday’s season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Gray’s overall Cactus League ERA is a higher-than-desirable 5.82, but his last two starts have been terrific. In 9 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs, Gray has struck out 11, walked one, and held opponents to zero runs. Both teams were running out lineups full of regulars as well. Clearly, Gray is ending the Spring in regular-season form.

Tony Wolters, who seems on track to earn the backup catcher role on the roster, has caught five of Gray’s six Spring appearances, but Black made it clear that Chris Iannetta would be starting the season opener against left-hander Patrick Corbin of the D-Backs. As for who the starting pitcher will be, Black has yet to say, but I simply cannot envision it being someone other than Gray.

Colorado Rockies: Stadiums Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson must conquer | Rox Pile
A key to winning the National League West will be two Rockies starters having success in away games against certain teams, writes Brady Vernon of Rox Pile. Gray needs to have success at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and Tyler Anderson must succeed at Chase Field against the D-Backs, writes Vernon.

Lineup set, Rox raring to make October run | Rockies.com
MLB.com’s Thomas Harding peeks at the Rockies’ projected Opening Day lineup. Harding notes to keep an eye on Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra, who missed some of Spring Training, due to being unsigned or to recovering from hand surgery, respectively. Also, “don’t sleep on [Chris] Iannetta,” who hit 17 home runs last season.

Signing Carlos Gonzalez didn’t help the Colorado Rockies | Rox Pile
The CarGo re-signing could prove a costly mistake for the Rockies, opines Rox Pile’s Olivia Greene. Before Gonzalez was brought back, it was far more likely that David Dahl and Ryan McMahon would have made the Opening Day roster. While it’s still possible that McMahon will crack the 25-man, his role is sure to be far more limited. As a result, the Rockies will be banking on rebound years from Gonzalez, Parra, and Ian Desmond.

Desmond putting it together as season nears | Rockies.com
Fortunately, Desmond is having more success as the Spring wears on. After a 1-for-22 start, Desmond is now hitting .360 since March 12. Both Desmond and Black are expressing confidence in a “modification” to where he holds his hands in his batting stance. Desmond continues to work on adjusting to playing first base, but his outfield versatility will no doubt come into play during the season.

Playing happy key for Parra | Rockies.com
Parra is also feeling better about his swing. He is pain-free after undergoing surgery on his broken hamate bone on February 9. It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Parra in his first two years of his three-year deal with the Rockies, but an important factor for Parra is to “play happy.”

Tauchman honored with Abby Greer Award | Rockies.com
Mike Tauchman was awarded the Abby Greer Award over the weekend, given to the Rockies player who was the Most Valuable Player of Spring Training. Tauchman appears a likely candidate for the Opening Day roster. Harding covers Tauchman and other stories from the backfields in his latest round of notes.

Colorado Rockies opponent insider preview: Arizona Diamondbacks | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry spoke with FanSided Diamondbacks beat writer Mark Brown about the upcoming season for the division rival Diamondbacks. Ultimately, the Snakes will need to be able to bounce back from early injuries to Steven Souza Jr. and Zack Greinke to remain competitive. With the addition of Jarrod Dyson and the emergences of Zack Godley and Archie Bradley, the D-Backs should be able to win 86-88 games in the estimation of Brown.