When thinking about the Colorado Rockies organization, great pitching is probably the last thing that comes to mind. The main reason for this is that there just hasn’t been much of it throughout their brief history, due in large part to the launching pad that is known as Coors Field. Mike Hampton was a former runner up in the Cy Young voting and frontline starter prior to producing a disastrous 5.75 ERA during his two seasons in Colorado. Denny Neagle was a two time All-Star and former 20 game winner who struggled mightily in a Rockies uniform. It’s pretty telling when Jorge de la Rosa, Aaron Cook, and Jeff Francis are some of the most successful pitchers in franchise history. The bottom line is fairly obvious – pitchers generally don’t fare well in Colorado. However, current ace Jon Gray is doing his best to buck the trend of underwhelming production from Rockies hurlers. Will he prove to be the exception to the rule or will he just be another in a long line of Rockies pitchers to avoid?

Let’s take a look at Gray’s profile to determine if his current success is sustainable moving forward. Here are a few thoughts and observations:

He throws really hard. Gray’s 95.2 mph average fastball velocity is the 5th highest mark out of 86 qualified MLB starting pitchers this season. This doesn’t guarantee success by itself, of course, as two of the four SPs ahead of him on the velocity leaderboard are Nathan Eovaldi and Yordano Ventura, but it certainly helps when pitching in the thin air of Coors Field, where offspeed stuff is much less effective. With this in mind, it’s certainly beneficial to Gray that…

His slider is one of the best pitches in baseball. Gray’s slider, which he’s thrown 28% of the time in 2016 (10th highest among qualified starters), has stymied opponents to the tune of a .487 OPS against and boasts a 24.8% SwStr% against that offering as well. Pairing elite velocity with a dominant, wipeout pitch helps to explain why…

He’s racking up the strikeouts. Gray’s 9.35 K/9 is the 13th highest rate among qualified starting pitchers, his 11.6 SwStr% is currently the 12th highest rate. These rates are especially impressive when considering the facts that…

His control and home run prevention are above average as well. Gray’s 2.89 BB/9 is technically only slightly better than league average (2.96 BB/9), but his 1.06 HR/9 is extremely impressive considering where he makes half of his starts. That home run rate is well below the league average for SPs (1.21 HR/9) and lower than that of players such as Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer.

Bottom line: Despite pitching in the most hitter-friendly environment in Major League Baseball, Jon Gray has begun to live up to his status as the #3 overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft. It’s still wise to exercise caution in difficult matchups at Coors due to occasional bumps in the road (4.84 home ERA), but outside of two iffy starts to open the season, he’s only allowed more than two earned runs in just two out of his eight home starts since then. On the road, he’s been much better, allowing two runs or less in seven out of ten starts. He’s one of just three starting pitchers this season to average more than a strikeout per inning with a BB/9 under three while averaging at least 95 mph on his fastball. The other two? Jose Fernandez and Noah Syndergaard. Let the other owners in your league be scared away by the Coors factor.

Final Verdict:

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  1. Steve Stevenson says:
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    Good stuff, Magoo. In a 9×9 H2H limited moves league (20/yr, I have 7 left) I need SP to push my way into the playoffs and have to be judicious with my moves, balancing sexy upside with ROS floor. Who are your top 2 out of Gray, Musgrove, Davies, Koehler, E. Santana, Pineda and Gausman?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Steve Stevenson: That is quite the mix of floor (Davies, Koehler, Santana) and upside (the rest). Musgrove would probably be my ceiling pick because he’s looked very good so far. The other choice would probably come down to Gray vs Pineda. They both have great K/BB numbers and wipeout sliders. Have to be careful with their home parks though. Without looking at upcoming schedules, I’d probably give the edge to Gray there. Pineda’s only above average pitch has been his slider, while Gray’s other pitches have been much better.

  2. hondo says:
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    Any take/comparison on his team mate Tyler Anderson?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @hondo: Great control and keeps the ball on the ground, which is a good profile to have at Coors. He’s kind of like a lower ceiling version of Gray. Definitely useful in the right matchups.

  3. Nitro says:
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    10 Team head to head keeper points league.
    Jackie Bradley Jr. for Jose Abreu? Which side?
    Thanks Magoo…

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Nitro: Tough one. Abreu has shown signs of life recently, and I’m still a believer in him, but I’d take JBJ there. He’ll be very good for a long time.

  4. Mike says:
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    with his innings limit, would you drop Vince Velasquez for Luke weaver?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Mike: In a redraft, sure. In a dynasty/keeper, I’d want Velasquez.

      • Mike says:
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        @Big Magoo: I’m in a 4 player keeper and I’m locking up trout, Harper, manny and Corey seager. I can’t afford another 9 run outing like big Vince had this week. Ralph’s wrote up about Luke had me sold.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Mike: Ah, I see. Neither pitcher would crack that list of keepers. Good luck!

  5. Nightpandas says:
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    Hey Magoo,

    Got offered Giolito for Harvey. Harvey was a maybe as one of my 11 keepers. What do you think?

  6. Big Magoo

    Big Magoo says:
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    @Nightpandas: It depends how risk-averse you are. I’d probably hold Harvey there. Giolito hasn’t impressed at the big league level, and pitchers like Jaime Garcia have returned from thoracic outlet surgery to produce strong seasons.

  7. Chucky says:
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    12T Dynasty forever, keep 16. Explore trading Votto (DH ) ? Have Rizzo, OF consists of Stanton (ugh), Betts, Pollock, Dahl and Duvall. Also have the luxury of moving Bryant to OF with KSeager, Bregman and Murph available at 3B. Devon Travis can slide to 2B. It’s an OBP league 6×6 so Votto is golden. What kind of pitcher is an even comp for Votto?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Chucky: In that format, Votto is definitely golden. You could try for someone like Jo-Fer, though that might be wishful thinking. A fair one-for-one would probably be someone like Scherzer, another aging high-end player at his position.

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