Get Jon Gray away from the Colorado Rockies and watch him reach a whole new level. I understand this way of thinking. Plus, to plug any pitcher onto the New York Mets roster, they get the benefit of having the pitcher-friendly confines of Citi Field to back them up for half of the season.
Gray fits the bill as one of those free agent pitchers the Mets should certainly look at this winter. Hitting the open market at 30 with a lifetime 53-49 record and 4.59 ERA, he’s hardly someone to consider an ace. But with this whole Coors Field effect in our minds, could become a whole different pitcher in a different situation?
I decided to look at Gray’s career splits. It didn’t take long to realize he might not be a uniform change away from becoming much better.
Jon Gray is worth a look but not someone the Mets should invest in heavily
The home and away splits in Gray’s career reveal one simple fact: he’s not getting killed at Coors Field.
Gray is 31-18 at home which can be expected. Typically, pitchers do perform better at home. Teams have the advantage of last ups. Familiarity with the city, lack of travel, and everything else has made Gray a respectable pitcher in a non-friendly ballpark for pitchers. His 4.54 ERA might be a tad high but it’s not nearly as horrific as some others.
Maybe I just remember Mike Hampton’s stint in Colorado well enough.
Meanwhile, on the road, Gray’s record falls to 22-31. It’s his ERA at 4.65 which really catches my eye. Somehow, he is averaging even more runs away from the thin air of Denver. It’s not a drastic difference nor are many of his other home/road splits.
The total number of innings he has pitched is close—416.2 at home and 412.2 on the road. This is great for evaluating what could lie ahead for him.
If there’s one number that is drastically different between home and road it’s the number of walks allowed. I don’t know if there’s any reason for this. Walks are one element that shouldn’t matter at all where you’re playing. However, Gray has walked 123 batters at home compared to 157 on the road in nearly an identical number of innings. This drastically raises his WHIP on the road to 1.39 compared to the more decent 1.28 at home.
The conclusion the Mets can draw from these splits
Gray can certainly benefit from playing for a team other than the Rockies or any other team where a number one start on the staff can get away with an ERA of 4.00. On the Mets, I can see him figuring it all out. Plus, he’s at an age where some guys bloom late.
To his credit, Gray does have seasons of ERAs at 3.67 and 3.84 in his career. This wouldn’t normally stand out to me except for the fact that his entire career has been spent with the Rockies. This is a franchise whose career ERA leader is Ubaldo Jimenez at 3.66. I know they’re young but to have only two guys below 4.00 with enough innings to qualify (Jhoulys Chacin is the other at 3.83), shows how truly tough it is to prevent runs on this club.
This winter’s free agent class of starting pitchers intrigues me. Just about everyone has something working against them. Many are coming off of career years or past their prime.
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While Gray may be a bargain option for teams like the Mets to look at, they should remain wary that maybe he isn’t much better than what he showed in parts of seven seasons in Colorado.