It’s here! The home opener. It’s quite different this year and depressing not to have the fanfare, most notably fans, that usually marks a home opener. On the bright side, it’s also going to be partly cloudy with a high of 87, which isn’t going to happen in early April.
It’s such a bummer that Jon Gray will be making his home opener debut without fans to cheer him on, but he can find comfort just by looking at his record against the Padres. In 19 starts (20 games total), he’s 10-4 with a 2.97 ERA over six seasons. He seems ready for taking the mound for the Rockies’ first game at Coors Field, telling Kyle Newman, “I’m ready for that real competition there, and I feel like I always have an edge (at Coors Field), so I’m excited. (At home I pitch) knowing that I’m going to out-do the other guy and knowing that our lineup is going to hit the ball. It’s a good combination and it makes you feel confident.”
In his first start of 2020 against the Rangers, Gray gave up one run on three hits, three walks, and had three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He threw 79 pitches before “hitting a wall,” according to Bud Black. Newman reports that Black said Gray is capable of going over 90 pitches in the 2020 Coors Field debut, adding that he is encouraged by Gray’s curve ball and change-up in addition to his usually effective “fastball/slider combination.”
Five games into the 2020 season, the Rockies find themselves in unusual territory: leading the league in pitching categories. The best one — only allowing nine runs, the lowest mark in the MLB. The lone nine runs in five games is also the lowest in team history, according to Elias Sports Bureau, crushing the previous record of 14 runs in 2011. Elias also noted that the nine runs are the lowest in the MLB since 2015 when the Braves also only surrendered nine runs through the first five games.
The starters have been solid, but only Gérman Márquez and Kyle Freeland have gone a full six innings. The four starters, with Márquez pitching two games, have given up seven runs in 27 1/3 innings Much of the impressive work has been performed by the bullpen, who’s only given up two runs in 16 2/3 innings. The Colorado pitchers also have only given up two homers, one by Matt Chapman off Márquez and one by Joey Gallo off Kyle Freeland.
I don’t want to list any more stats in order to avoid jinxes. After all, superstitions are still valid in 2020, but there is one more positive note: as Rox Pile’s Luke Mullins points out, Scott Oberg hasn’t even pitched yet.
Now comes the test: Can the pitchers keep it up at Coors Field?
Adding more positives to the Rockies’ 4-1 start, Nick Groke compiled a nice list in addition to the pitching accolades mentioned above:
• Four wins in the first five games for the second time in team history (the other in 1998)
• First time ever of holding opponents to fewer than three runs in each of their first five games
• Going 4-1 this season is like starting 11-2 in a regular season
• The lefty-heavy lineup against right-handed starters, including the five through nine hitters of Daniel Murphy, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia, Sam Hilliard, and Tony Wolters in addition to David Dahl in the leadoff spot and Charlie Blackmon in the three hole (with other variations as well), has played out nicely so far.
There’s also the positive outlook from Wolters, who’s liking what he’s seeing from Colorado pitchers in terms of execution: “They’re not trying to overthink. They’re not trying to overdo anything.”
My favorite quote of Wolters’ observations of the Rockies thus far: “I see a little cockiness. I see a confidence.”
I had allowed myself to forget about Jose Reyes. Now it seems we get to do that as collective baseball fans. Reyes announced his retirement on Wednesday on Twitter, thanking his former teams, but not the Rockies.
Maybe it’s for the best so we can try to forget that he was ever a Rockie. Kevin Henry runs through the unpleasant series of events that happened when the Rockies acquired Reyes as part of the trade that jettisoned Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. Reyes never wanted to be a Rockie and, after playing only 47 games in purple, was arrested on domestic abuse charges against his wife, and was suspended for 51 games. (The charges were later dropped when his wife refused to cooperate with police).
Shortly after his suspension ended in June of 2016, the Rockies released him, but still had to pay him $39 million. Reyes returned to the New York Mets, where he played three seasons, but his contract ended after the 2018 season. He’s been hoping for another chance ever since, but apparently gave up this week.
It’s all a frustrating chapter of Rockies history, but Henry does point out one bright spot: it brought the arrival of Trevor Story.
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