By Romi Bean

PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS4) – Jon Gray is the fifth pitcher in Colorado Rockies history to start on Opening Day in back-to-back seasons, and only the second homegrown talent to have the honor.

gettyimages 925087220 master Rockies Gray Aims To Be A Workhorse For 2018 Season

Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies delivers a first inning pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during a Spring Training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 27, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

But as we all know, big rewards come with big responsibility.

Manager Bud Black expects Gray to set the bar for a very young five-man rotation.

Gray is ready to prove himself, and Thursday night is the perfect opportunity in his mind.

“I’m excited about it. I know things are really good right now. I feel really good about my mechanics, the way I’m throwing the ball lately, so I’m ready to take another shot,” Gray said. “I want to throw 200 innings and be the guy that’s there all the time. Stay healthy be there and be a workhorse.

gettyimages 851122624 Rockies Gray Aims To Be A Workhorse For 2018 Season

Bud Black #10 of the Colorado Rockies comes onto the field before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on September 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

“I think the key for Jon is to make his 33 or 34 starts. I think if he does that, he’s going to amass 200 innings. And if he does those two things, I think the quality of work will be such that we’re going to win a lot of games that Jon starts,” said Black.

Gray will be up against largely the same lineup he faced in the WildCard Game which, of course, includes all-star Paul Goldschmidt, who nailed a three-run homer off Gray in the game.

Even if Gray isn’t saying it, you know a win on Thursday will feel extra sweet.

Romi Bean is a sports anchor and reporter at CBS4. Connect with Romi on Twitter @Romi_Bean.

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