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Sonny Gray Is Just Terrible

There’s no two ways to put it; Sonny Gray is the worst pitcher on the New York Yankees, if not in the entire American League right now.  He’s 5-7 with a 5.85 ERA, and his numbers don’t do justice to how bad he’s actually pitched.  It’s actually surprised his ERA is that low.

Gray has had the opportunity to turn his season around multiple times.  He’s had brilliant starts against the Indians, Orioles, and Royals that looked to have turned his low self-confidence around.  However, with every good start comes three or four bad starts, and that was the case once again on Friday.

Gray was rocked for five runs in just two innings and has slowly turned into a true liability for the Yankees whenever he’s on the mound.  There are a couple of telling stats that show just how bad Gray has been over the past season.  The first, while deceiving, is the fact that the Yankees are 7-10 when he starts but 49-19 when anyone but him starts.  The second, he’s only the fifth pitcher in Yankees history to go two consecutive starts of 2 1/3 innings or less, 5+ ERs, and 6+ hits.

What makes this performance even worse is the fact that Gray had owned the Blue Jays, producing a masterful 1.88 career ERA at Rogers Centre.  It’s troubling for any pitcher in a rut, but for someone who pitches so well in seven starts to look so lost is puzzling.  What exactly has been wrong with Sonny Gray?

Zero pace of play

Gray’s biggest bug-a-boo this season has been his inability to get into any sort of rhythm.  Fans saw spurts of it during his few good starts, but there are very few times that Gray seems to be in the zone.  Whether it be throwing countless balls in the dirt or taking what feels like a full minute before pitches, Gray is in his own head and isn’t just pitching.

From what teammates both in the past and present have said, Gray sometimes tries to do too much.  C.C. Sabathia said himself that, “Sonny just needs to go out there and pitch. Sometimes he’s thinking too much.”  If that isn’t a wake up call to just trust your stuff, I don’t know what is.

No strikeout pitch

Sonny Gray’s inability to get in a rhythm also has a lot to do with him not being able to get hitters out on what should be his “strikeout pitches.”  Because he can’t put hitters away, he starts pitching around them, and eventually walks a lot of them.

Why doesn’t Gray have a bonafide strikeout pitch?  Well he does, he just doesn’t trust himself to throw it.  When his curveball and slider are on, he’s untouchable.  However, he gets in the habit of trying to get cute with pitches out of the zone for opposing hitters to chase.  When they don’t chase, he gets frustrated, starts taking his time, and gets a little wild.

Terrible at home

There’s no beating around the bush on this one either;  Sonny Gray has been atrocious at Yankee Stadium.  He might be worse at home than any pitcher in the league (not confirmed).  Gray is 2-3 with an 8.25 ERA.  An 8.25 ERA is not good, and it’s surprising he even has two wins considering how poorly he’s pitched.

The strangest part about his terrible home record is that he hasn’t given up all that many home runs considering.  Yankee Stadium is a band box where you and I can pop one over the right field fence.  However, Sonny Gray has only given up eight home runs at home, which is still a lot but not nearly as much as his ERA indicates.

Maybe the cliche that some people just can’t pitch in New York is true.  Kevin Brown couldn’t, A.J. Burnett couldn’t, and Randy Johnson couldn’t.  Is Sonny Gray broken, or can he just not handle the pressure of New York?  Either way, he’s going to need to figure it out soon or he’ll be just an afterthought on this juggernaut Yankees squad.

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