Prior to Saturday’s matchup against the Reds, the Rockies called up infielder Ryan McMahon (previously of the first base variety) to fill in for DJ LeMahieu, who is currently on the DL, at second base. To make room on he 25-man roster, Pat Valaika — who has struggled mightily this season — was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.
But what does it all mean? Is Ryan our starting 2B now? Will he have the opportunity to win the 1B job again? Are the Rockies desperate for offensive improvement? Yes, yes, and yes. In all actuality, the keystone position will likely resemble more of a platoon between McMahon and Daniel Castro, with Ryan getting some time at first against righties and Desmond spelling Parra/CarGo/Dahl in the OF against lefties.
Regardless of the position he finds himself playing, McMahon should be a big improvement over Valaika’s .120/.185/.173 slashline. In his first game back in the lineup yesterday, Ryan went 2-for-4, including a hard-hit line drive at Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez that resulted in an out. Colorado’s young number-two prospect looks primed to solidify himself as a major league asset, and the Rockies will certainly need him to be if they want to make a serious run at a division title in a very winnable NL West.
Three-time All-Star and former shortstop turned left-fielder turned first baseman (sound like someone you know?) Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment on Friday by the Boston Red Sox. Ramirez, who won the NL batting title in 2009 with the Marlins, has had an up-and-down tenure with Boston — finely represented this season in which he slashed .330/.400/.474 in March and April before an extended slump in May hitting .163/.200/.300.
While it was a bit of a surprising move for the Red Sox — they will be on the hook for all of his $22M 2018 salary, minus the pro-rated league minimum salary of $545K — it’s not surprising the Rockies have been rumored as a potential landing spot for the veteran slugger given their first-base *ahem* situation.
It’s hard to imagine Ramirez could be any worse of an option at 1B for the Rockies this season. Ian Desmond is slashing .173/.224/.358 in 192 plate appearances, a well-documented black-hole of offense, but the Rockies shouldn’t look to replace him with just anyone who has been more productive so far — that would literally be any first baseman. No, the Rockies would be wise to pass on Ramirez, wait for DJ LeMahieu to return and take over duties at second base, and show a little faith in Ryan McMahon moving forward.
Looking back at Jon Gray’s victory over the Reds on Friday, Nick Groke of the Athletic breaks down the distinction between the “dominant and talented Gray and the lost and frustrated Gray,” and how one pitch in his repertoire — his third or fourth best option — turned into a difference-maker for Jon as he learns to adjust to hitters hunting his fastball and slider.
In five victories this season, Jon Gray has a 1.36 ERA — in his six losses, a 10.05 ERA. When he’s been good, he’s been very good, and when he’s been bad... well, he’s mostly been unlucky, but too hittable. He has a .368 BABIP this season resulting in a very good 3.16 FIP and 74 FIP- (considered excellent by FanGraphs standards), but Jon wants to bridge that gap between his performances in victories and losses and become more consistent.
So what’s the big difference right now? According to Jon, it’s just getting “the feel of it” and picking up some confidence in a variety of his pitches. Right now, the confidence is in his curveball, and he hopes to use it more effectively this year in returning to form as the ace of the Rockies rotation.
If you haven’t yet, you should definitely take some time to introduce yourself to Rookie, David Dahl’s adorable Golden Retriever puppy who has an Instagram account with over 400 times more followers than me... anyway, Kevin Henry at Rox Pile asked Dahl about his puppy, its incredible social media following, and how David handles “keyboard criticism” from fans on the internet. There’s even a video that will fill your heart with the warm and fuzzies before you can manage to wipe away tears of joy and mutter, “...who?”