The bane of the Rockies‘ existence has always been developing pitchers, particularly those who can survive Coors Field, one of the coldest and least kind home venues in any sport.
Yet Jon Gray, once the no. 3 pick in the draft, has proved throughout the season to be up for the challenge. He entered Saturday night with a 105 ERA+ and a strikeout-to-walk ratio nearing 3.0. Those numbers will look better in the morning, because Gray threw the game of his life against the Padres: nine innings, zero runs, zero walks, four hits, and 16 strikeouts.
Yes, a franchise- and stadium-best 16 strikeouts — including a stretch where Gray struck out six consecutive batters, comprising a four-strikeout inning in which a batter reached on a dropped third strike. Here’s the last of the bunch — one that came against his hard slider:
According to Brooks Baseball, Gray induced swings and misses on 15 of his 26 sliders. He also notched seven whiffs on fastballs, and another three on curveballs. That’s 25 swing-and-misses on 52 swings — or one away from being half. Pretty ridiculous.
Gray, whose hobbies include ghost hunting, did well to avoid the same fate as the tortured souls who haunt the Coors Field mound. He finished with a 102 Game Score, the best in stadium history. In fact, just four other pitchers have ever reached 90 in a Colorado-hosted game:
- Jeff Francis (91) threw a two-hit shutout in 2006 against the Cardinals.
- Hideo Nomo (91) no-hit the Rockies back in 1996. He walked four batters.
- Pat Rapp (91) one-hit the Rockies in 1995. He walked one.
- Chad Bettis (90) held the Giants to two hits back on September 5.
It’s more than a little amusing that two of the five best performances in Coors Field history have come within a week and a half of each other, right?
As for Gray, he’s probably not going to receive as much down-ballot Rookie of the Year consideration as he should — his case is strongest when viewed through park-adjusted lens — but at least he can hang his hat on knowing he’s in the record books.
Source: CBS Sports / Jon Gray throws the best start ever at Coors Field, and it’s not even close