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Rockies find themselves in a curious position with Jon Gray

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Rockies news and links for July 3, 2018

Jon Gray is a Riddle Wrapped in a Rockies Uniform | The Ringer
Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer offers very detailed analysis on the season of Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray. By peripheral stats, Gray has not only been an effective starter for the team, but he’s been among the best pitchers in baseball. In fact, his strikeout and walk numbers are closely akin to those of Max Scherzer. Of course, his 5.77 ERA at the MLB level does not reflect this, and the would-be ace was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque to regain some focus. The gap between Gray’s ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) would mark the largest single-season disparity in Major League history. Much of Gray’s misfortune can be seemingly attributed to a career-high batting average on balls in play, which can come with the territory of pitching half of one’s games at Coors Field, home to a vast outfield.

Much of the strikeout, walk, and pitch selection numbers are close to the same as Gray’s first seasons in the Majors, when he had a good deal of success. But while Gray has a higher BABIP with the bases empty than with runners on, his strikeout and walk numbers trend in the wrong direction with men on base. And lately, Gray’s velocity has also taken a noticeable drop.

“He runs into trouble all the time,” Ryan Spilborghs told Lindbergh about Gray’s strange season. Discussing Gray’s demotion, Manager Bud Black focused on the issues with runners on specifically, while Spilborghs cites an issue with throwing pitches “middle-middle” and questioned the right-hander’s focus. Spilborghs makes a bold call for Gray to be moved to the bullpen to improve his focus, but also considers the fact that Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay were once sent to the minors as well, but “came back better.”

Did Jon Gray Deserve His Demotion to the Minors? | FanGraphs
Craig Edwards at FanGraphs also tackles the Gray discussion, and looks at how the Gray Wolf’s numbers have compared to other MLB pitchers historically. An interesting comparison for Gray’s 2018 can be drawn with Zack Greinke’s 2011 season with the Milwaukee Brewers, which ranks along with Gray among the top five ERA-FIP disparities since 2002. Gray is pitching to a 5.77 ERA with a 3.08 FIP in 2018. In 2011, Greinke had a 5.45 ERA with a 3.05 FIP in the season’s first half, which was followed by a second-half 2.59 ERA/2.52 FIP.

Edwards also notes the BABIP issues Gray has experienced, along with a league-worst left-on-base percentage.

Nolan Arenado is tired of losing. Will he have to leave the Rockies to win? | USA Today
Bob Nightengale of USA Today wonders if leaving the Rockies would represent Nolan Arenado’s quickest path to winning.

The Colorado Rockies shake up their rotation, possibly in multiple ways | Rox Pile
With Gray being sent to Triple-A, Antonio Senzatela is expected to be recalled today to take his place in the rotation. With Chad Bettis exiting his recent start against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a “hot spot,” there could perhaps be another opening in the rotation. Rox Pile’s Jake Shapiro believes that Yency Almonte would be the favorite if Bettis needs to miss a turn. All of this means the team that has only needed five starting pitchers in 2018 may see that number increase to seven in short order.

BSN Rockies Podcast: Rockies need to stay hot inside the division | BSN Denver
In the latest episode of the BSN Rockies podcast, Drew Creasman recaps the Rockies’ recent series with the Dodgers in Hollywood, and previews games leading up to the All-Star break.

2018 MLB Trade Deadline: Are the Colorado Rockies going to be buyers or sellers? | MLB Daily Dish
At MLB Daily Dish, Patrick Karraker offers his take on if the Rockies will be buyers or sellers at the deadline. With it being the Wild Card era, the answer is probably buyers. If the team were to be buyers, an upgrade at first base would be the most obvious area of need. Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox would cost a pretty penny, and Karraker also lists Lucas Duda of the Kansas City Royals as an option. The lefty-swinging Duda makes little sense to me as the Rockies could use a right-handed bat, and Desmond has been a better offensive player than Duda in 2018 by wOBA (.314 to .306). If the Rox were to acquire Abreu, Desmond could move to the outfield and represent a right-handed option there. I could easily see Noel Cuevas being optioned to Triple-A as a corresponding move in that scenario. However, that’s easier said than done and we haven’t considered the asking price for Abreu in this brief discussion.

General Manager Jeff Bridich has mentioned the possibility of acquiring a veteran starter to add to the rotation. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets and Cole Hamels of the Texas Rangers appear to be available to contending teams, but the asking prices are currently unclear, though the Mets would understandably likely be looking for elite prospects.

If the Rockies were to be sellers, second baseman DJ LeMahieu and reliever Adam Ottavino would be rentals representing the greatest maximum return for the team.

This is why CarGo could soon be on the move | MLB.com
And then there’s Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo has seen an OPS increase with each month as the calendar has progressed in 2018. If the Rockies are sellers, teams seeking a left-handed outfield bat could see use for the 32-year-old. On July 19, Gonzalez will become a “10-and-5” player, meaning he has 10 years of MLB service time, 5 of which with his current team. This allows CarGo to veto any trade, so if the Rox are looking to make a deal involving Gonzalez, it may be in their best interest to do so soon.

Mitchell Kilkenny AMA | Reddit
Mitchell Kilkenny did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) post on Reddit on Monday. Kilkenny was selected 76th overall by the Rockies, and recently underwent Tommy John Surgery. You should absolutely check this out if you’re interested in learning more about the prospect.