While the New York Yankees have seemed to get along just fine without Sonny Gray in the rotation, they will need to get him back come October.
His arrival in the Bronx was highly anticipated. His performance after arriving was decent. His performance this season has been anything but.
Sonny Gray came to the New York Yankees to fill a void in the rotation back in July of 2017 at the trade deadline. The Bombers were lauded for snagging a young, controllable pitcher who had a pretty solid career out in Oakland.
But the dream did not last and the relationship between Gray and the Bronx turned cloudy. In the 2018 season, Gray posted a 6-7 record in the first half, struggling mainly at Yankee Stadium. His ERA at the Stadium has inflated to 7.32 in 11 starts.
With the seemingly unending struggles, Gray was transitioned to the bullpen, a spot incredibly unfamiliar to the 28-year-old. After three appearances in this new role, Gray finally got the opportunity to take the mound in the first inning again on Saturday evening for Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader.
Gray looked phenomenal, to say the least. He pitched 6.1 strong innings, allowing no runs and three hits while striking out seven. This is the Gray the Yankees coveted during last season’s trade deadline. This is the Gray the Yankees will need moving forward if they want to have any chance come October.
He may not seem like an important cog in the greater machine that is the New York Yankees but he holds more value to this team than one would think.
Right now, the rotation is showing signs of fatigue. Luis Severino has shown signs of struggle from his spot and injuries have been taking over all season long. The bullpen has also been shaky as of late, with Aroldis Chapman falling victim to injury and several reliable pieces struggling to find their groove again.
With that in mind, the Yankees have plenty to worry about in terms of their pitching without having to worry about whether or not Sonny Gray can figure himself out once again.
While we have no idea what position Gray will find himself in come October, he’ll play an important role because of his versatility. If he emerges as a starter once again, he’ll need to be on top of his game in order to follow up the likes of a healthy Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia when it comes to facing teams such as the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians or Houston Astros.
If he continues on his current path in the bullpen, he’ll likely be one of the few guys who can work long innings, an important bridge in case of a starter injury or poor starting pitching performance. Not only that, but he might need to be called upon to make a last-second spot start, much like Saturday’s performance, a role in which there is little room for error.
Gray has proven time and time again in Oakland that he can be a high-quality pitcher. He has definitely had solid performances for the Yankees but those have typically been sandwiched in between rough outings. Gray has been an enigma but has the potential to be a great pitcher, as he’s proven before his time in the Bronx. I refuse to believe that he has simply lost all his skill when moving across the country.
Sure, the spotlight is incredibly bright and the fans and media are ruthless in New York. But come postseason time, there is definitely a need for Gray and the role he’ll play for this team.
October is inching ever closer and Gray has been there before. It’s time to start putting in consistent performances because without the versatile Sonny Gray, the Yankees might find themselves packing their bags early.
It can’t stay cloudy for Sonny Gray forever and the sooner he gets his act together, the sunnier the postseason will be for the Bombers.