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Denver — Colorado Rockies starter Jon Gray was quick to say that his manager Walt Weiss made the correct decision to take him out of his last start after seven innings pitched — and he reaffirmed his ultimate faith in his bullpen — but I wanted to know if the day ever came that he was asked to go the distance, could he do it?
“Man, I almost never feel like I get tired out there,” he said. “I always feel like I could keep going.”
He says he knows that he and the team need to be smart about his health at this stage of his career and even at this stage of the season, but he expressed nothing short of supreme confidence that should he be asked to throw over 100 pitches, he could do so with relative ease. So far, he has maxed out at 7 1/3 innings this season in a game in Boston and pitched exactly seven innings four times.
Going back to his days in Grand Junction, Gray has always been a pitcher who gets stronger as his outings go on, and he is aware of this. The more frustrated the hitters get the more confident Gray gets. And with confidence comes the kind of success he experienced Friday night against the Padres.
It was a specific kind of success unlike any he has felt before. “I didn’t have my best stuff, I felt OK in my bullpen but it’s totally different out there live. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get the zip on my fastball I want.” So, Gray … the rookie … dusted off a change-up that he ended up throwing more times in that game than in the three prior combined. He even used it in key at-bats against Matt Kemp and Brett Wallace. “You gotta find what works,” he says. “I’m just changing pitches and changing speeds regardless of the hitter and regardless of the count.”
He and the team are correct to be cautious with his pitch count, but that day will come when the bullpen is gassed or short-staffed and Gray is on the mound. He is confident on that day, he will be ready as long as he keeps his focus on “getting better with each game and each pitch.”