The Rockies announced Wednesday that they placed right-hander Jon Gray on the 10-day injured list due to tightness in his right forearm. Colorado also selected the contract of right-hander Julian Fernandez and recalled righties Antonio Santos and Justin Lawrence from Triple-A Albuquerque as rosters expand to 28 players.
Forearm tightness is ominous for any pitcher and is particularly alarming given the manner in which Gray’s performance has dropped in recent weeks. A bright spot in the Rockies rotation for much of the season, Gray has compiled just 22 innings in his past five appearances and been rocked for a 6.55 earned run average in that time. There’s been no drop in his velocity, but the results alone are enough for concern when combined with an injury.
Gray is a free agent at season’s end, which prompted broad-reaching expectations that the Rockies would move him at the trade deadline. That didn’t happen, however, and the Rockies have voiced hope that they can keep Gray beyond the current season. The interest is mutual, as Gray has said he enjoys playing in Denver and would welcome a contract extension. The Rockies are currently expected to issue Gray a qualifying offer, which would be for one year in the $18M-$19M range, but any arm injury of note could impact both the potential for a QO and the potential for a long-term deal.
Fernandez, 25, will make his major league debut when he first pitches in a game. The righty was originally signed by the Rockies out of the Dominican Republic and has had a rather unusual journey to the big leagues. The Rockies lost Fernandez to the division-rival Giants in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, but he suffered a ligament injury in his pitching elbow that spring and required Tommy John surgery. The Giants carried him all through that 2018 season but removed him from the roster in November 2018 — at which point the Marlins claimed Fernandez. He spent much of the 2019 season continuing his rehab before suffering a setback that shut him down. Miami returned him to the Rockies in October 2019, nearly two years after he’d been selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Because of those injuries and the lack of a minor league season in 2020, the 2021 campaign marks the first time since 2017 that Fernandez has pitched in an actual game. Finally healthy, the right-hander had a nice showing in Double-A before an even more impressive run in a hitter-friendly Triple-A setting. He’s pitched to a combined 2.53 ERA in 42 2/3 innings this season, including a sterling 0.64 mark in Triple-A, where he’s fanned a third of his opponents against just a 7.4 percent walk rate.