Colorado Rockies right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is scheduled to make his return from almost a three-year major league absence when he takes on Madison Bumgarner and the host San Francisco Giants in the second game of a three-game series Tuesday night.
The Rockies got shutout pitching from righty Jon Gray and three relievers to win the series opener 2-0 on Monday night, spoiling a five-inning, 11-strikeout effort by Giants left-hander Drew Pomeranz.
Gonzalez, 27, blew out the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm in spring training with the Rangers in 2017 after he went 4-8 with a 4.54 ERA for Texas over the previous two seasons.
The Florida native underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and didn't return to the mound until late last season, when he pitched a total of three games at the rookie-league and Class-A levels before making six more appearances in the Dominican Winter League.
Even though he hadn't pitched in the majors since July 2016, the Rockies signed Gonzalez last December. This week, they decided his 4-5 record and 5.66 ERA in 14 Triple-A starts this season were good enough to warrant a return to the bigs.
"Being out of the game for so long -- and being lost, essentially -- motivated me to get back," Gonzalez admitted to reporters Monday. "I'm ecstatic to be here and show what I've got."
Gonzalez has never faced the Giants, but he has gone head-to-head with three of his potential Tuesday opponents -- Kevin Pillar, Pablo Sandoval and Stephen Vogt -- when they played for other teams during the 2015 and '16 seasons. That trio has a career 0-for-7 log against him.
Gonzalez will be matched up with Bumgarner (3-7, 4.28 ERA), who has gone 0-3 with a 4.41 ERA in his past six starts and is winless since May 18.
No doubt, he'll be happy to see the Rockies, against whom he has recorded two of his three wins this season. He beat them 5-2 at home in April and 14-4 in Colorado in May, allowing a total of five runs and 14 hits in 13 innings.
Bumgarner is 15-8 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 career starts against the Rockies. The 15 wins equal his most against any opponent, matching his total against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The staff ace should benefit Tuesday from the return of slick-fielding shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was held out of Monday's game with what the club labeled a mild hamstring strain.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted before the game that Crawford was available for pinch-hitting duties, but the skipper opted for Brandon Belt and Vogt in the 2-0 loss.
"I didn't want to take any chances playing him today," Bochy told reporters of Crawford. "I talked to him. He says he feels fine. He could play. We're going to give him a break. We're in a long stretch here, 20 games (in 20 days). The plan was to give some guys some time off."
Rockies manager Bud Black did that with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado on Sunday in Los Angeles, bringing both in to pinch hit in Colorado's 6-3 loss. Back in the lineup Monday, Blackmon responded with a third-inning single in front of David Dahl's two-run home run that produced the game's only scoring.
Arenado went 1-for-2 with two walks Monday. He and Blackmon each have 13 career hits against Bumgarner; only seven players have more.
--Field Level Media