In an announcement that surprised nobody, Jon Gray was named the Rangers opening day starter.
On a team that has a shortage of major-league-caliber starters, Gray wins by default. Who else would deserve those honors?
Dane Dunning hasn’t earned that right yet. Maybe in a few years. Taylor Hearn is still trying to prove he belongs in the rotation, let alone lead it. And Martin Perez has one fatal flaw. He pitches like Martin Perez. Opening day is a day for bringing out your best and presenting it to the world. Martin Perez is that ugly lamp your dad drunkenly bought on eBay.
So, Gray it is. Gray is the color of the optimism in this starting staff.
While he doesn’t inspire confidence, Jon Gray does have a winning record, which is something no other Ranger rotation candidate can boast. His career ERA of 4.59 won’t win any bragging rights, but compared to what the Rangers have run out in recent years, he can hold his head high.
The thing about Gray is, he really cannot hide behind the Coors Field factor and claim his numbers were inflated by pitching in the thin air of Denver.
He was actually better at home than on the road. He was an amazing 31-18 at home, in zero-gravity Coors, and 22-31 everywhere else. For the record, Arlington checks off the somewhere else category. He had a lower ERA at Coors, a lower opponent batting average at Coors, fewer walks at Coors.
Now, the thirty-year-old right-hander gets the ball against a Toronto team that most experts are picking to win the A.L. East, the toughest division in baseball. It will be no easy task. But he is 2-0 with a fine 2.43 ERA against Toronto in his career, so there’s that.
And, baseball makes so sense. He could just as easily throw a no-hitter.
Let’s hope Gray finds the magic that Kyle Gibson found last year. That would be welcome.