On Saturday afternoon Sonny Gray took the field in Arizona and threw a simulated game. He traveled out west with the Cincinnati Reds for their road trip rather than remain in Cincinnati or Louisville where the Reds alternate site team plays and where he made a start earlier this week. Things seemed to go well for Gray.
“It was a good day, a success,” said manager David Bell. “We’ll still have to try to figure out his next step. I would imagine his next step will be pitching on our team and making a start some time next week.”
Figured you'd like to know that it was Sonny in Arizona today. ??? pic.twitter.com/Sn5yAKsyeq
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 10, 2021
It would appear that today’s simulated game was the final step for Sonny Gray as he returns from back spasms that have kept him out since about the middle of March. The right-handed starter threw 60 pitches in his start at the alternate site earlier this week. The general build up from one rehab start to the next is a 15-20 pitch increase from the last outing. Assuming that plan continues, whenever it is that Gray returns (on a normal five day schedule it would be Friday at home against Cleveland) he should be ready to throw somewhere in the 90-95 pitch range.
Tonight in Arizona Jeff Hoffman takes the mound for Cincinnati. On Sunday it’s going to be José De León. When Sonny Gray returns one of them is very likely going to be pushed out of the rotation to a destination to be determined (Hoffman has no options, De León does have an option).
Both pitchers threw well in their first outing of the year. Hoffman allowed one run in 5.0 innings while allowing three hits, no walks and he struck out six batters. De León also allowed three hits in 5.0 innings, but he allowed two earned runs, walked two batters, and he struck out nine of the 21 hitters that he faced. The Reds may not base their decision on two starts, but a dominant outing this weekend by one of them could certainly work in the favor of said pitcher and sticking around in the rotation a little bit longer.