Denver Post columist Mark Kiszla provided an interesting article the other day regarding Colorado Rockies top pitching prospect Jon Gray. Gray is projected to be the ace Colorado has been longing for, for quite some time but Kiszla thinks they should easy the fireballer in as the closer down the stretch.
Although I didn’t agree with it right away, Gray definitely has the stuff to close. Gray can hit mid-to-upper 90’s on his fastball while mixing in a slider and changeup. Here’s more from Klis:
Bring up Gray from the minor leagues and begin grooming him to be the team’s closer for a playoff run. Ease the ballyhooed 22-year-old righty into the majors with a large safety net that protects his ego, his arm and his potential. Let Gray begin his stint with the Rockies by pitching the seventh inning as a middle reliever.
Colorado can’t be certainly ecstatic if they are in contention moving forward with current closer LaTroy Hawkins. Hawk has been a nice veteran presence and has done well in his time closing but realistically you’ll need an upgrade. The 41-year-old can still sling it into the lower-to-mid 90’s but doesn’t have the wipe out stuff you need as a closer. Although he has only blown one save in twelve chances, he has given up 22 hits in 17.1 innings pitched; sitting at an ERA of 4.15.
Colorado does have another option in Rex Brothers who converted 19 saves for the club last year but has been shaky in 2014. The 26-year-old has blown four saves this season while being erratic with his command. He has walked 14 batters thus far in 21.2 innings entering Monday night’s action. Rockies fans including myself vowed for Rex to take over the closer’s role this season but just hasn’t been the same.
Kiszla also made some great points about starters such as David Price of the Rays and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals beginning out of the pen. My only concern about this would be that Colorado needs pitchers like Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson healthy in order for this to happen. Without those two, there are two open spots in the rotation — where Gray could slide right in. Gray would definitely be a boost at the back-end of the pen if indeed the Rockies are contending.
Gray is currently 5-2 on the season with the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A) with a 2.79 ERA. In 48.1 innings pitched, the flamethrower has struck out 42 while walking just eight batters.