Rockies right-hander Jon Gray has been optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque, per a team announcement on Saturday. A replacement has yet to be officially named to cover Gray’s start against the Giants next Tuesday, though fellow right-hander Antonio Senzatela is likely to be the club’s first choice.
The 26-year-old Gray slumped to some career-worst totals in 2018, leading National League pitchers in games started (17) but also hits allowed (108) and earned runs (59). He posted a 7-7 record with a 5.77 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.6 SO/9 through 92 innings. It’s likely that his last start sealed his fate: On Thursday, the Rockies eked out a 9-8 win over the Giants in spite of the right-hander’s five runs and 71 pitches scattered across just four innings. MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg adds that Gray had seen a sizable dip in his fastball velocity as well, tipping the club off to more significant underlying issues (manager Bud Black, for his part, suggested that it was Gray’s inconsistency and mental hang-ups that had a greater effect on his sudden decline). While it’s hard to believe he’ll have much difficulty regaining his form in Triple-A, the Rockies don’t appear to have set a firm timetable for his return to the majors.
Tapia, 24, hasn’t set foot in the big leagues this season. The outfielder impressed during his limited tryout with the team in 2017, raking .288/.329/.425 with 16 extra-base hits and five stolen bases in 171 plate appearances. It’s not certain that he can replicate those numbers again in 2018, but he looked strong in his first three months in Triple-A with a .308 average, 10 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 340 PA.