The Texas Rangers planned to have Lance Lynn and Corey Kluber leading the way at the top of what would have been a formidable rotation.
Kluber, the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, was injured in his first start of the season, putting a damper on those hopes. But into that void has stepped left-hander Kolby Allard, and despite not getting a decision yet, he has pitched well.
Allard will take the mound for the Rangers as they wrap up a weekend series in Colorado seeking a sweep of the Rockies. Colorado will counter with right-hander Jon Gray, who is also looking for his first win of the season.
Texas took Saturday night’s game 6-4 after winning 3-2 on Friday.
Allard (0-0, 1.00 ERA) is coming off a strong outing against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 8. He struck out six and allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings.
“Kolby, not surprisingly, did what he does. He attacked,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said after that 2-0 win over the Angels. “He used all his pitches. He used that breaking ball, and it’s kind of the difference-maker at times, because it keeps them off of his cutter and fastball.”
Allard will try to do that in his first career start and second appearance against the Rockies. His only time facing them came almost two years to the day, Aug. 17, 2018, while he was with Atlanta.He was tagged for three runs in just one inning of work.
Sunday will be his first time pitching at Coors Field.
Gray (0-2, 6.41 ERA) knows Coors Field well, and he has had plenty of success at home against the American League. Gray is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA (39.0 IP, 8 ER) in six career interleague starts at Coors Field, limiting American League batters to a .159 average.
This will be his third career start and second of the season against the Rangers, but the first time facing them at home. He hasn’t figured into the decision in his previous outings and has a 5.59 ERA across 9 2/3 innings. In the first meeting this year, July 25 at Texas, he allowed one earned run over 4 2/3 innings.
Gray has struggled in his last two starts, giving up 11 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. In his most recent outing, a 12-8 loss to Arizona on Monday, he allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Gray was victimized by some soft hits against the Diamondbacks, a team he has struggled against in his career. The velocity on his fastball is averaging 93.8 mph, down from an average of 96.0 last season.
He said after Monday’s loss he has no physical issues and doesn’t know why his velocity is down but is hopeful it will increase as this short season progresses.
“I’ve been commanding my fastball really good. But obviously it’s not enough,” Gray said Monday. “Hopefully, I’ll get back to normal. I don’t know what I have to do to do that, but it’s going to be done. It’s going to have to happen. It’s going to happen.”
–Field Level Media