Sonny Gray has not yet made an appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in spring training. The right-handed pitcher was acquired from the New York Yankees in the offseason. And a part of that trade was a window that allowed the Reds to sign Gray to an extension for three more seasons, with an option year for a fourth season. But the spring didn’t start out on the right foot. His elbow didn’t feel right and he was shut down for a little bit. Since then he’s thrown some side sessions.

And then there was earlier today when he faced live hitters for the first time. While the Reds are off today, Sonny Gray and the minor leaguers were not.

The next step would seem to be that Sonny Gray will take the mound in a game. That’s what he would like to have happen, but it’s unknown when that will actually happen.

Speaking of Sonny Gray, there’s a piece out today that give plenty of hope that his 2018 season was a blip on the radar. And that his 2019 season could be a lot different. Eno Sarris looks into Gray over at The Athletic (subscription required) this morning. There’s a whole lot to the article that dives into his pitch selection, and why some of them worked, didn’t work, and what he’s looking to do moving forward. It also dives into some of the help he’s gotten from coaches Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham.

Coach Johnson hasn’t banned the slider yet, but he did once before. When Johnson coached Gray at Vanderbilt, he told him not to throw the slider because it would change his curveball. Guess what happened to Gray’s curveball last year.

It’s going to be a real interesting look to see how much different Sonny Gray is in 2019 compared to 2018. The Yankees have a rather specific pitching philosophy for their guys. And they changed up a lot of what Gray had previously done, and took away one of his strengths in the process. The Reds are banking on getting him back to what he was before he joined New York. It seems they’ve got a plan. Hopefully they can execute it.

10 Responses

  1. matthew hendley

    Good, I will be very upset if this backfires

  2. WVRedlegs

    I think Derek Johnson will get Sonny Gray straightened out and then some. Gray doesn’t like to throw those sliders the Yankees made him throw. He said it also affected how he threw his curveball too. Johnson will get him back on track I believe.
    This from the NY Post today on Gray. Gray has a little bit of attitude. Good to see.

    With the Yankees Severino going down, the Gray trade may backfire big on the Yankees. The Yankees are nervous about their rotation now.

    • TR

      As attitude and wins increase, the Reds will move closer to contention in the NLC.

    • Ken

      The Yankees could have 4 starters down and they still would not have used Gray. Please go look at the percentage of Sliders he has thrown the last 4 seasons, the Yankees made him throw it a whole 1% more than the previous seasons.

  3. CP

    Does anyone know with how delayed Gray has been if he will have to start the year on the DL? I’m just wondering if Mahle breaks camp with the big league rotation because of Gray still not being ready/built up enough….

    • RedsDownUnderer

      I think the hope might be that he is not far enough behind that he can just be slotted into the back of the rotation as technically the number 5 starter (which obviously becomes the #1 second time around). They even have an off day after opening day, so they could theoretically delay his first start to the 9th game (March 6) without having to replace him in the rotation.

    • Shchi Cossack

      As long as Gray has no additional issues, he can easily get stretched out over the next 3 weeks. DB and DJ have been very conservative with the pitchers during early ST…

      Roark (3 gms, 5.1 IP), Anthony DeSclafani (2 gms, 3.0 IP), Luis Castillo (2 gms, 2.2 IP) & Alex Wood (1 gm, 1.0 IP). This obviously doesn’t include any additional work the pitchers have put in outside their actual game action.

  4. John Ring

    Nice article and very good news. Getting and extending Sonny could be one of the best off season moves the Reds made. I wish him the best. I don’t expect Jim Maloney or Mario Soto but Gray could develop into a hell of a nice starting pitcher for us.

  5. old-school

    The Athletic article is very good. Interesting to see if Cotham and Johnson can get other pitchers to understand what they do well , what they don’t and emphasize their strengths. Sarris called it self-discovery. Gray was very open on what he learned about himself using tracking machines to measure spin rates and spin efficiency which showed a lack of ride on his 4 seam fastball. The data shows why Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are so good with those 4 seam fastballs up in the zone and the elite ride they get with spin efficiency. Gray doesn’t have the spin efficiency and hence the ride. He also admits he cant command a slider.

    So more cut fastballs down in the zone and more curves and less sliders and no more 4-seamers high in the zone. That sounds like a pitching plan.

    Interesting to see if this translates to other pitchers- Castillo with his change up, Garrett with his slider, etc.,

    • Reaganspad

      and Stephenson.

      Still a lot to work with there for the right conductor…