Jon Gray aims to help Rockies complete sweep of D-backs

MLB

Jon Gray has made it known that he wants to stay a member of the Colorado Rockies. He wasn’t dealt at the trade deadline despite his pending free agency after this season, and he was happy about it.

Gray considers Colorado home, and he even enjoys pitching at hitter-friendly Coors Field. His agent and the franchise, in fact, have started negotiations for a new deal to keep the right-hander with the Rockies.

“They know I want to be here and I know they want me here, so I think it’s going to come to a group decision,” Gray said.

Gray (7-9, 3.93 ERA) is focused on the season right now and his next start, which comes Sunday against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks in the finale of a three-game series.

The Rockies took the first two games of the series, including a rally Saturday night to win 5-2 on Elias Diaz’s three-run walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth. Colorado has won nine straight at Coors Field and five in a row overall.

Arizona will send right-hander Taylor Widener (1-1, 4.59) to the mound in his second career start against the Rockies. His first one came May 23 in Denver. In four total appearances against Colorado, he is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA.

Gray has much more experience facing the Diamondbacks over the years, which includes a start in the 2017 National League wild-card game at Phoenix. Gray is 5-6 with a 4.97 ERA in 16 career starts against the Diamondbacks, including 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA in eight starts at home.

Gray came up through the Rockies system as a hard-throwing hurler but he has become more of a complete pitcher, especially this season. He has developed a reliable changeup, which has helped him improve on a rough 2020.

“I think some of it’s a better mix,” Gray said recently of his success. “I think that we’ve used a curveball more, and especially the changeup. The changeup has been big. Looking back on games that have gone well, the changeup is used a lot so it’s something I may have to go back to and start using more.”

Widener hasn’t won since his season debut on April 4 and he has been on the injured list twice. The first stint came when he sustained a right groin strain against Colorado in May and he was on the 10-day injured list until July 9.

Widener worked his way back to the rotation and made three starts before being put on the injured on Aug. 7. He returned Tuesday and pitched well against Philadelphia despite receiving a no-decision in the 3-2 win. He gave up one run on two hits in five innings.

“It was a tremendous outing for him and, unfortunately, we turned it over to the bullpen. I think he was probably a little frustrated,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “But we’ll keep building him up, and keep building up that stamina.”

–Field Level Media

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