Spring training is in full swing, now that we are a week removed from pitchers and catchers reporting and the full squad held their first workout yesterday. As we look ahead, one important question remains: who will be the Rockies’ Opening Day starter in 2020? The Rockies begin their season in San Diego this year on March 26. Kyle Freeland got the nod last year and Jon Gray was the starter in 2017 and 2018. Will Gray take the mound again this year? Will Kyle Freeland come out hot in spring training? Will it be German Márquez’s turn to shine? Or will it be a dark horse, say Chi Chi González or Antonio Senzatela or even Ubaldo Jiménez? The Purple Row staff weighs in on this very important question.
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It should be German Márquez. It will be Jon Gray. Gray has had an up and down career with the Rockies that has included such moments as striking out a club record 16 Padres in 2016 and the infamous Wild Card Game start in 2017. After a down year in 2018, Gray took a trip to Driveline and was one of the bright spots in the dismal 2019 season before a broken foot ended his season. Gray also performs well in San Diego, where the Rockies will start their season. He has started nine games at Petco Park and has a 5-3 record with a 2.68 ERA. That’s his lowest ERA at a park at which he has pitched more than one game.
German Márquez will give Gray a run for his money, and I think the competition will be close. Márquez has not started on Opening Day yet, and this might be his chance. In 2019, he played the role of stopper and was second to Gray in most pitching categories. He was the most consistent of the starters and who could forget that one-hitter? 2020 might be the year to see what Márquez has got, but I still think Gray will get the nod in San Diego.
It should be German Márquez. I truly believe he’s become one of the top 15 starters in baseball. There’s been some trouble with giving up the long ball (and who hasn’t lately?), but the K/BB rate is elite. I’m even comfortable saying 2020 Márquez will be better than 2020 Clayton Kershaw. That being said, I think Jon Gray will probably get the ball on Opening Day—and he certainly isn’t a poor choice. The Rockies’ organization seems to have been hesitant on giving Gray the reins as the team’s number one starter in recent years, so it’s a bit ironic that he seems to have become the choice at the same time I’ve come around to Márquez being better.
In the tradition of Oscar predictions everywhere [music swells]:
Who should be the Opening Day starter? German Márquez
Who will be the Opening Day starter? German Márquez
Márquez has earned his place as the Rockies stopper—when the team is in a tailspin, a solid outing from Márquez can stop (or at least pause) a skid. (See April 14, 2019, July 21, 2019, August 11, 2019.) Bud Black knows his pitchers, so it makes sense that he would use Márquez to set the tone for the 2020 season. (Moreover, the opening game will be key in setting the narrative—and laying the foundation for Monfort’s 94-win season.)
I think it will be Jon Gray, The Gray Wolf. Awhooooo, anyone?
Gray made massive improvements in 2019 that washed away all (okay, most) of his snafus in 2018, at least in my mind. If he is truly recovered from the foot injury he sustained late last season, I think Gray has the ability to be the Rockies’ ace. His 3.84 ERA in 2019 was much better than the 5.12 he posted in 2018. He didn’t pitch as many innings in 2019, but his earned runs, hits, and home runs allowed were down. I think German Márquez will be the number two starter going into the season. All of that being said, I haven’t seen Kyle Freeland’s changes other than a slo-mo video on Twitter or what kind of impact losing weight will have on Antonio Senzatela, but I think Gray will get the nod this year.
No comment. Next question.
It should probably be German Márquez. Overall, he’s the best pitcher. But Jon Gray has proven time and again that he’s mentally tough enough to handle pressure-packed situations, so he’s a fine pick for Opening Day too. That said, who among us wouldn’t like to see Trevor Story take the mound? I bet he would throw really hard.
Give the ball to Ubaldo Jiménez. He started Opening Day in 2010 and 2011. Why not take the mantle again in 2020? Just kidding.
I think it should be German Márquez and also believe it will be him. He’s the most solid pitcher we have, I think he’s got the mound presence to handle the pressure, and he’s never started on Opening before. Let’s try something different. I am very excited about Jon Gray’s potential this season and hope he and Márquez can be a great 1-2 punch. Gray was solid in 2019, but he got rocked in 2018’s season opener against the Diamondbacks, giving up three runs in the first inning and only lasting four innings. When Gray got the start in 2017, he gave up a five-spot in the fifth inning in a no decision, but the Rockies did win. Gray is a better pitcher now then he was then, but I think this is Márquez’s time. It’s been a brutal offseason. Let’s start the season off right with Márquez taking on the Padres on March 26.
Jon Gray’s unrestricted free-agency is looming, and if he feels he has the trust of the organization to pitch on Opening Day, perhaps he’ll feel more ambitious to stick around beyond his current deal. I say Gray, for that very reason—even if he doesn’t stick around, the label ‘Opening Day Starter’ might get the Rockies more value for him.
Marquez is under team control through 2025. Gray hits unrestricted free-agency in 2022. Both are younger arms that Colorado should definitely want to keep around, given how volatile the starting rotation can be at times. I do feel Marquez ‘should’ get the start, statistically speaking. Jon Gray’s ERA did edge Marquez in 2019, but both had an identical FIP last year. You want your ace to be a shut-down guy—Marquez saw less baserunners with a 1.20 WHIP last year, while Gray was at 1.35. It’s a marginal difference, yes, but there’s something to be said about the guy that allows less baserunners at Coors Field. For those reasons I would go to Marquez, but it still doesn’t seem enough to me risking a less-happy Gray when his free-agency comes earlier. All it costs German Marquez is a rotation spot that isn’t quite as cool, and having to wait one more game to pitch.
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Who do you think will be the Rockies’ Opening Day starter in 2020? Sound off below!
Who will be the Rockies’ Opening Day starter in 2020?
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