With the MLB hot stove in a cooling period while everyone recovers from the holiday buzz, it’s time to go in on some rumors.
It’s well documented that Sonny Gray did not have a good 2018 season.
After being acquired at the 2017 trade deadline, Gray figured to be a key piece in the Yankees plans going forward. At 28 years old, he was considered a steal for the Yankees, who were looking for rotational depth as they geared up for a pennant push. Gray was solid down the stretch in 2017, pitching to a 3.72 ERA over 65.1 innings for the bombers, and was seen to be an above average middle of the rotation man for the Yankees in 2018.
Then 2018 rolled around.
Gray was ineffective from the get-go. He would mix in a few 8 inning performances throughout the year, but, for the majority of the season, was flat out bad. So bad in fact that he was relegated to the bullpen in August, and was left off of the Yankees postseason roster.
When all was said and done, Gray finished the year with a 4.90 ERA and a poultry 89 ERA+.
The Yankees are actively looking to trade Gray in exchange for “High End” big leaguers, which twitter collectively eviscerated. But, is the hate or humor justified? After looking at the numbers a little bit closer, not really.
Sure, Gray was terrible in 2018, but it was more a factor of where he pitched. Gray had abysmal numbers when he pitched in the little league field that is Yankee Stadium, but away from the Bronx, he was pretty damn good. In Yankee Stadium in 2018, Gray had a 6.98 ERA and gave up 11 home runs, which is almost impressively bad. But, on the road, his ERA dropped to a cool 3.17. Gray’s home and road splits from 2017 after being traded to New York tell a similar story. In fact, Gray’s average season over the course of his career paints him as a well above average pitcher. Over the course of his 6 year career, Gray averages a 3.66 ERA across 203 innings, with 178 K’s to boot. With the exception of a bad 2016 season where he was banged up, and the anomaly that was last year, Gray has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the league since coming into the league in 2012.
So the reason that the Yankees are looking for a good return and Gray is so widely wanted is simply: He’s still a good pitcher, who happens to be coming off a down year.
He’s still only 29 years old and has a lot of quality innings left in his arm. The only issue is his contract is up after the 2019 season, so whoever would be acquiring his services would only have him as a one year rental.
Teams like the Brewers and Reds have asserted themselves as the front-runners for Gray, and whichever team he goes to, I believe he’ll have a positive impact on any teams rotation. I think MY Cincinnati Reds are the perfect city to revitalize his career (I’m officially a Reds fan now).
Sonny Gray turned himself into a meme in 2018, but he’s a prime candidate for a bounceback year this coming season.
Photo: Noah K. Murray/ USA Today Sports