Rockies option Jon Gray to Triple-A

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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.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.