CLINCH WATCH 2021 – Gray Day in LA, Gray Day in CO – 9/27/2021

la winter

As the lone NL West team to compete today, we’re going to completely ignore the Colorado Rockies in favor of the starter for the Washington Nationals – Former Dodger and key trade piece Josiah Gray.

Look, the only thing I regret about the Scherzer/Turner trade is that it didn’t happen before spring training, but it did sting a bit to see Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz move into a darker blue.  To be fair, Ruiz always felt a bit like a trade piece in waiting.  With Will Smith (who should have been an All-Star this year) and Austin Barnes firmly planted behind the plate, there wasn’t room for Ruiz at the big league level with the Dodgers in the near future.

But when the rotation was thrown into chaos by injury and crimes, Gray seemed like an obvious solution to help.  Thrust into the spotlight in relief against the Giants, Gray had an extremely rough outing, giving up three homers with a total of four earned runs in four innings.  But he also struck out seven.  And it was against those bedeviled Giants.

His second start was against Colorado in Dodger Stadium, a match-up that usually brings out the best in the Dodgers.  It ended up being a 3-2 squeaker come-from-behind win.  Both of Colorado’s runs came off of Gray, an RBI single in the first then a solo homer in the next inning.  He also issued four walks and one IBB.

After his 6.75 ERA major league performance, LA sent him back to OKC, where he remained until he was one of the four players traded to the Nationals  The Nats, now down a starter themselves, immediately plugged him into the rotation.  

Since then, he’s lowered his ERA to 5.85 with 69 strikeouts in 64.2 innings.  Still, it’s a far cry from the career 2.41 ERA he had in the minors with the Dodgers.  This 5-4 win over the Rockies might have felt like a small about of vindication for Gray, who picked up his second win of the season against them.

As for this particular game, Gray seemed a little bit rattled in first inning.  After hitting Brendan Rogers with a pitch, he then threw a wild one to Charlie Blackmon that allowed the pinch runner Garett Hampson to move to second.  But Blackmon grounded out and Gray got Trevor Story swinging to end the inning without giving up a run.

He put up zeroes for the next four innings, though not without some traffic on the bases each round.  In the sixth, he gave up a single and two walks to load the bases for Ryan McMahon, who smacked a bases-clearing double into center.  Gray was pulled from the game, but still earned the win thanks to the Nationals’ earlier offense.

Look, Gray has electric stuff, no doubt.  I don’t think his performance at the major league level so far has reflected that.  Flashes of it, absolutely, but he’s still finding his feet.  And he’s still miles away from being a bust.  My hope is that he works through his major league kinks this season to emerge strong and sharp in 2022.  

And then gets traded back to the Dodgers somehow.  Hey, a gal can dream.


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