With Nolan Arenado battling a shoulder injury, the odds of him taking over to will the Rockies to the playoffs seems unlikely, leaving room for someone else to step up. Many have pointed to the bottom part of the batting order, while others suggest it is up to the starting pitchers to return to their early season form. Unfortunately, the latter route took a hit on Wednesday as Bud Black announced that Jon Gray would likely miss the rest of the season.
Gray has been on the 10-day injured list since September 4, but the hope was that he could return for another start or two and deliver some quality innings as the Rockies attempt to climb their way out of tenth place and into the postseason. While speaking to the media on Wednesday, Bud Black took away any hope of seeing Gray back on the hill in the club’s remaining twelve games as he ruled out the possibility that Jon would be available in a relief role.
After allowing three runs or fewer in his first three starts of the season, Gray gave up eight in just 3 1⁄3 innings against the Diamondbacks on August 10 and only had one other start where he held the opponent to three runs. Those same Diamondbacks were limited to just three hits and one run through six innings by Gray later in the month. That lone bright spot in August was followed by a seven run outing against the Giants where Gray wasn’t able to make it through the third inning. It now appears that said outing will be the final one in this bizarre 2020 season, which Gray will look to put behind him.
Like Nolan, it is fair to ask if shoulder issues were at the heart of the problem for Gray. The Rockies’ former number three overall pick had a 6.69 ERA this season, well above his career average of 4.59. His 22 strikeouts over 39 innings in 2020 gave him a 5.9 K/9 rate, a distant cry from his lifetime mark of 9.2.
With two star players beleaguered by injuries to the same physical location, maybe an offseason priority for the Rockies will be improved shoulder safety and management. If there’s such a thing as a shoulder-specific doctor, it’s time the Rockies start looking to hire.
This article was published before the Jon Gray news, but may be even more important now. With the bullpen having trouble locking down innings and probably in line to get more innings with Gray on the shelf, Bud Black may need to push his main three starters a little more (he got off to a good start with the Senzatela complete game Tuesday.) With 12 games left, it looks like Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela will get two, maybe three, more starts this season. The 60-game season means less overall arm fatigue and may allow the Rockies to put a heavier workload on these three guys.
While I’ve heard a lot of fans talk about the fact that Nolan has “checked out” for the season, I think that isn’t the case. He’s doing all he can to battle through the shoulder injury and certainly not blaming his poor performance on it.
“You don’t want to make excuses and you just try to find a way.” T
he all-star level we’ve come to expect from Nolan at the plate over the years isn’t there, but it’s not for a lack of heart.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!