Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees are receiving everything they ever wanted from Sonny Gray after acquiring the righty.
Through his first two starts against the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, Gray’s allowed a total of seven runs (four earned runs) on eight hits while striking out 12 and walking seven. Much to the dismay of the former A, the Bombers failed to score a single run of support for Gray when he was on the mound.
Last night against the New York Mets in his first taste of the Subway Series, Gray received four — yes, four — runs of support, as he picked up his first win in pinstripes and his first win since July 19 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he was a member of the A’s. The Yankees ended last night’s festivities with a narrow 5-4 victory over their crosstown rivals from Queens.
He sported a good line against the Mets, hurling six innings of two-run ball, along with five hits allowed, five strikeouts and two walks. The two runs came off of a two-run home run by rookie Dominic Smith and that shot knocked him out of the game with over 100 pitches and a two-run lead as he had thrown six shutout frames before it.
Gray got the chance to leave the game to his first Yankee Stadium ovation. A note to Yankees fans everywhere — there are more of those waiting for him in the future.
“It was a fun game overall,’’ Gray said to Anthony Rieber of Newsday. “Anytime you come away with a win it makes it that much better. It was a great atmosphere, it was a great crowd. If you can put together a solid game and come away with a win on nights like tonight when the crowd’s into it, the players are into it, it makes it that much better.”
The latest outing added another quality start to Gray’s resumé as that makes three quality starts of six innings and two earned runs allowed across three starts as a member of the Yankees. He provided length, which he always does, to a Yankees pitching staff that needed it after 4.2 innings were needed out of their bullpen when Luis Cessa became the latest starting pitcher in pinstripes to fall victim to the injury bug.
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Gray has made 19 starts this season and only four of those starts have gone less than six innings. Again, length is his middle name.
Across his last nine games started, Gray has gone 5-4 with a 1.88 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched including 53 strikeouts and 18 walks allowed, as well as just three home runs allowed. Again, he’s produced ace-like numbers over the past 51 days and he entered Tuesday night’s game with the lowest ERA since Jun. 25. Gray now has pitched at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts, which covers that span, and only Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola has a longer streak — 10 starts.
When the Yankees acquired Gray, they had a plan envisioned for him. They needed a pitcher that would produce top-of-the-rotation stuff every night out and the young right-hander has certainly proved so far that he was the right guy for the job.
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The Yankees traded away three of their top-15 prospects — Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian — for two-and-a-half years of control of the 27-year-old Gray. Last season, they were bringing in prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield Billy McKinney and Dillon Tate, among others, but this year, they sent a clear message to the rest of the baseball world and their fans with the acquisition of Gray — they’re ready for October and ready for a run at the postseason.
The fact that he’s only allowed one home run in three starts with the Yankees also supports the Yankees trading for Gray. Gray thrives as a ground-ball pitcher and that helps him be a successful pitcher in the Bronx, which is a hitter’s park. Gray had made one previous start at Yankee Stadium, in which he threw seven innings of three-run ball for the A’s.
The Yankees brought on Gray to pitch against the big guns in the American League, but on Tuesday, he showed that he could go head-to-head with a big gun in the National League, besting Jacob deGrom. deGrom went 7.1 innings, but he allowed five earned runs in the process and his ERA increased to 3.35 while Gray decreased his ERA to to 3.37.
The Yankees have two aces — possibly three if Masahiro Tanaka can fully rebound from his first half failures — and a fully-loaded bullpen, along with an AL MVP hopeful. The great thing about having Luis Severino thrive this season is that Sonny Gray doesn’t have to be perfect in the Bronx.
Although if Gray and Severino can pitch off one another the rest of the way, the Yankees, with some help from their bullpen and offense, can make things interesting in the American League.