Jon Gray has been through tough times, dealing with control problems and revealing that he battled depression over the past year.
One thing Gray made clear was his desire to remain with the Colorado Rockies even though he is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. Colorado didn’t deal him at the trade deadline, deciding to not entertain offers for the right-hander a few days before Friday’s cutoff.
Gray (7-6, 3.62 ERA) rewarded the decision with a strong outing in San Diego on Friday night. He will try to keep that momentum going when the Rockies face the Chicago Cubs in the second of a three-game series on Wednesday night in Denver.
The Rockies won the opener 13-6 on the strength of a grand slam by Elias Diaz.
Chicago will send Alec Mills (4-4, 4.55 ERA) to the mound to make his first career appearance against Colorado.
Mills began the season in the bullpen but has been a consistent starter since June 15. He has appeared in 21 games, 12 as a reliever. Since rejoining the rotation, Mills has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all eight of his outings.
He allowed a career-high nine hits over six innings in his last outing, a 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. That defeat came on the eve of the trade deadline, when the Cubs were busy. Mills likely will continue to get opportunities to show he belongs as a starter.
With the departure of some big names from Chicago, there is a leadership void that catcher Willson Contreras wants to fill.
“I’m trying to be a leader and I’m going to do my best,” Contreras said recently. “I know that I can assume the role of a leader. I’m not thinking of a trade or anything like that. I’m just playing baseball and trying to guide these guys.”
Gray is slated to make his third career start against Chicago. He is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA, four walks and seven strikeouts in two outings vs. Chicago, both of which came in 2018.
Gray has pitched well since June 25, when he returned from the injured list after recovering from forearm tightness. He has gone 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in that span, and he is 5-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 10 home starts this season.
His solid mark at Coors Field is a good reason for Colorado to try to bring him back for 2022 and beyond. Gray is 31-15 in his home starts during his career, and his .674 winning percentage is second only to Jorge De La Rosa in franchise history for pitchers who have made at least 40 starts in Denver.
The Rockies have had discussion with Gray about a new deal.
“I’d love to stay here,” Gray said recently. “Denver feels like home and the Rockies are my family. When you grow up in an organization like this one, it’s hard to imagine being with anyone else. I enjoy wearing purple on the mound. I’d hate to wear another color.”
–Field Level Media