Sonny Gray is now faced with the notorious comparisons to the past starting pitching busts of the New York Yankees.
Now, three months into the season the Yankees brass and coaching staff must face the reality that their number three starter they traded for, at the expense of three highly touted prospects, has been nothing but lackluster. That being said, it is time to break out the worthy comparisons to the past Yankees’ starters who were considered to be all-time busts.
Heading into his second season, Gray had high hopes to build on the playoff performances he put on display in 2017. But even before heading into the 2017 postseason Gray had underachieved. He was 4-7 with 3.72 ERA in 65.1 innings pitched.
The postseason arrived, and in two starts he was 0-1 giving up a total of four runs in both games pitched. Not bad, but was it worthy enough of what he had to cost the New York Yankees at the trade deadline?
However, there was 2018 for Sonny Gray to improve upon his disappointing last season and — once again — he’s been nothing short of disappointing.
"I feel like we're the best team in baseball four out of five days and then I come out there." – Sonny Gray.
"I've been bad against multiple teams."
— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) July 1, 2018
Clearly, he has a valid point.
It seems appropriate to compare one of the most-hated pitchers in Yankees history, Carl Pavano, to the myth of Sonny Gray.
First, let’s break down Carl Pavano by the book. It should be noted that both of these pitchers share the same traits except for the way they landed in New York. Pavano was signed to a four-year, $39.95 million contract in 2005. Sonny Gray was traded in a deal that sent three Yankees’ prospects (Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler) to the Oakland Athletics.
Carl Pavano was nothing short of disastrous while in the Bronx. In just three years he compiled a 9-8 record in 26 games started. He pitched in 26 games…26! In three years!
Not only was he ineffective while on the mound (5.00 ERA in NYY career) but he also pitched in the same fashion as Gray does. For those who watch Sonny Gray on a weekly basis, one could get high blood pressure watching him try to make every pitch perfect as he constantly nibbles at each corner of the strike zone.
It doesn’t stop there either folks. Gray, now in the second year of his Bronx tenure, is on a very similar to pace to that of Pavano. Up to this point, with no present or past injuries, Sonny Gray has pitched to a 9-13 overall record with a 4.68 ERA while surrendering a total of 144 hits. To put it in perspective, Pavano gave up 184 hits which place Sonny on a very similar pace to that of Pavano.
As you can tell it’s a very fair comparison due to the fact that Gray has started a total of 27 games similar to the 26 total Carl Pavano started. And quite frankly, while Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone did, however, come out and say they aren’t looking to skip Gray’s next start, it’s a given Yankees’ fan would accept the notion to cut ties with the man right now.
Through roughly 27 games of both starters, we are able to get an idea of how each has panned out in their small sample sizes. Gray clearly has a little still left to prove but like Pavano, who started on Opening Day in 2007, things can become dangerous real fast. Pavano’s troubles came primarily from freak injuries while Gray’s struggles have strictly been from poor outings and poor pitch execution.
There is one ultimate thing in common: both pitchers have been complete busts since arriving. Some may say that Carl Pavano had a good start to his Yankees career but in reality, he was not the pitcher they expected him to be — just as Sonny Gray hasn’t been. An ace of a staff or top-of-the-line rotation piece doesn’t pitch to a sub .500 record and an ERA above four.
The last thing to leave you with is the New York factor. Gray, like Pavano, came from a small market team. The Oakland Athletics just don’t have the same aura and expectations thatNew York Yankees organization has. This is obvious. The Florida Marlins, at the time, were coming off a World Series just two years prior but still were a team still on the rise of popularity and notice.
It begs the question, what does or what has New York done to pitching free agents and players via trades?
Simply put, New York puts high expectations on its acquisitions.
And if you can’t meet those expectations then you’re just as disappointing as the person that came before you. For example, Sonny Gray and Carl Pavano.