Jon Gray is eager to get his feet wet in the majors, but he also understands the Colorado Rockies are banking on him for the future.
Continuing to gain trust from his coaching staff, the talented prospect tries to help the Rockies avoid a sixth consecutive defeat Saturday night against the visiting San Diego Padres.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2013, the hard-throwing Gray (0-0, 2.70 ERA) has allowed three earned runs over 10 innings in two starts since being promoted. Colorado, however, hasn't allowed the 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-hander to reach 80 pitches in either outing.
Though the club won't necessarily saddle Gray with a specific pitch limit, it will be smart after he logged 238 2-3 innings between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Albuquerque since the start of last season.
"We're just going to be intelligent," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told MLB's official website. "The process started prior to him getting to the big league level. We're just going to continue to manage his workload."
Gray worked a fastball that reached 98 mph and a slider in the high 80s on Monday, allowing only a solo homer in six innings of a 4-2 loss to the New York Mets.
"I understand the point of it," Gray said of the team's cautious approach. "You want to go back out, especially in a game like that, close game. So part of me wanted to, but I saw the bigger picture."
He'll try to help Colorado avoid a seventh straight loss to San Diego (55-61) and Matt Kemp, who became the first Padre to hit for the cycle Friday when he recorded four RBIs during the 9-5 victory. Kemp completed the feat with a ninth-inning triple as the Padres won for the third time in four games.
"I was like, `Wow.' It's hard to believe, all the great hitters that have been here," Kemp said of recording the personal and team milestone. "Tony Gwynn and all those guys haven't been able to hit for the cycle. I'm just glad to be able to do it."
Kemp, who has two homers and seven RBIs in two games, is batting .328 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in his last 31 contests. He's hit .385 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 10 games against the Rockies (47-67) this season.
"He showed (Friday) why he is the player he is," manager Pat Murphy said. "That was special, special to be part of."
Teammate Andrew Cashner (4-12, 4.09), trying to avoid becoming the NL's third 13-game loser, is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his last three starts and has received one run of support in each outing.
Facing the Rockies for the first time this season, the right-hander is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts against them but has allowed three runs over seven innings in each of his two at Coors.
DJ LeMahieu is 5 for 10 against Cashner and batting .421 with three doubles in the last six games.
Colorado, however, has scored 10 runs and batted .185 during its five-game slide. Carlos Gonzalez is 2 for 19 during that skid, and 2 for his last 12 against Cashner.