Welcome to the show, Sonny Gray. After two strong relief outings in Mid-July, Gray got the call back to the show, this time as a starter. They’ve gone pretty well for the young right-hander.
- Start 1: at Toronto: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
- Start 2: vs. Houston: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
That’s a small sample size, but a pretty good one.
Now, I’ll admit that there’s always a part of me that stays away from the flavor of the week types. That’s not to say that I don’t think these players will go on to good or even great things, but young players tend to be evaluated exclusively for what they do well, while veteran players are only evaluated based off of their weaker points. I’d just like to actually see more of youngsters before deciding how great they are.
But this changes a little bit at this time of the year, especially with pitchers. Right now, there’s only a little more than one month to go in the season, so you can do a pretty good job predicting who a pitcher will face. The typical concern with rookies is that good offenses will expose them, especially after they’ve watched him pitch a few times. With Gray, that’s not as much of a concern.
Starting with tonight’s start against the Mariners, look at what should be Gray’s starts for the rest of the year.
- August 20: vs. Seattle Mariners
- August 26: at Detroit Tigers
- August 31: vs. Tampa Bay Rays
- September 5: vs. Houston Astros
- September 11: at Minnesota Twins
- September 16: vs. Los Angeles Angels
- September 21: vs. Minnesota Twins
- September 27: at Seattle Mariners
The game that immediately jumps out is the Detroit game. I learned my lesson from last week’s Dixon’s Picks, never EVER send a pitcher against Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and that team. But other than that, you’re not exactly looking at a murderer’s row of opponents.
The Rays are a good team, but win with pitching way more than hitting. Who knows what kind of lineup the Angels will have, especially if Mike Trout is hurting? I know his injury isn’t serious right now, but hamstring injuries are awfully hard to recover from, the game is a month from now, so who knows where he’ll be, and the Angels are going absolutely nowhere in the standings, so don’t be surprised if they’re conservative with him. Other than that, it’s nothing but bad teams going absolutely nowhere.
What does all of that mean for Gray? Well, it’s true that top tier hitters will often be a little rough on the youngsters. But the hitters on these teams aren’t exactly top tier, and the better hitters on those teams (Joe Mauer, for example) could well be sitting the bench in these games. Gray may have some growing pains, time will tell. But playing the odds, they won’t come against these teams. Also, if you noticed something about those games they are all in Oakland, or in a pitcher’s park. That never hurts.
As far as a recommendation, Gray is definitely a guy you want to add if you’re in need of some pitching help. He was at a strikeout an inning in the minors this year. I wouldn’t start him against the Tigers but until further notice, all of his other probable starts are green light outings.