UPDATE: Gray lands on 10-Day DL with a stress fracture of his left foot. Updated post below:
Starting pitcher Jon Gray has aggravated an old injury to his left big toe, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reported. He originally suffered the injury during spring training, but was healthy enough to make his first three starts of the season prior to the reactivation of the injury.
“The worry is if this is about a turf toe variant injury,” the Fantasy Doctor’s Dr. Selene Parekh said.
Turf toe can range from anywhere from a sprain to instability . It is likely that the Rockies will be without Gray for four to six weeks. However, if it is unstable, it could require surgery. Surgery would force Gray to miss four to six months.
Gray, Colorado’s third overall pick in 2013, led the team with 185 strikeouts in 2016. His breakout season made it easy for his new manager, Bud Black, to call on the hard-throwing right-hander to pitch on Opening Day. He was expected to be the catalyst of the Rockies rotation. Gray was 0-0 with a 4.38 ERA and nine strikeouts in three 2017 starts before going down with the injury.
Fantasy owners in leagues with only one disabled list roster spot will have a tough time keeping him if a more elite player gets injured and takes priority over Gray. He can be dropped in most if not all leagues until he is healthy again.
It is not everyday that the Rockies have a promising young starting pitcher with the type of stuff that Gray has. He broke the single-season franchise record with 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings last season. Replacing him will not be easy.
The Rockies have two pitchers with experience as a starting pitcher on its current 25-man roster: Jordan Lyles and Chris Rusin. However, considering this is expected to be an extended absence, they could be consider using this opportunity to call-up a younger player from the minors. Also, Lyles came out of the bullpen in each of his nine spring training appearances while Rusin started just one game. Black, a longtime pitching coach, may want to solidify a pitching staff. That could start with giving younger guys a chance.
Jeff Hoffman could be the first starting pitcher to get the call from the minors this season. Hoffman, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, made six starts in eight appearances in 2016. In those starts he had a 4.88 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched. Hoffman had 124 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched in Triple-A last season.
However, the Rockies have not exactly produced many fantasy relevant pitchers because they play in Coors Field. Fantasy owners can and should ignore the Rockies starting pitching.