Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
While the Los Angeles Dodgers saw Keibert Ruiz during a three-game series with the Washington Nationals, they did not end up facing Josiah Gray, one of their former top pitching prospects.
Gray was acquired by the Dodgers from the Cincinnati Reds in a 2018 trade that also involved Jeter Downs and Homer Bailey. The deal sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds.
Gray developed into one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and made his MLB debut with the Dodgers before they traded him with top prospect Ruiz to the Washington Nationals for Trea Turner and Max Scherzer at the 2021 deadline.
Upon initially struggling early into his Major League career with the Dodgers, Gray began to question his ability, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“When guys come up and they debut, they question themselves: ‘Do I belong? What do I have to do to say I belong?’” Gray said during the Nationals’ recent trip to San Francisco. “I kind of dealt with that a little bit.”
This season Gray is gaining more comfort with the Nationals by blocking out those thoughts, and the results are showing it. The 25-year-old has pitched in 11 games, throwing 61.2 innings with a 2.77 ERA:
“You don’t want to think about when they’re going to get the next guy in to take your spot, but I feel like it’s a reality that we don’t shed light on,” he said. “Just trying to go out there, the best I can, and not thinking about that. But, at some point, those thoughts do cross everyone’s mind, so just trying not to let it be too overbearing.”
Gray is due for some regression as he is currently sporting a 4.50 FIP, 4.19 xERA and 4.97 xFIP. He is also only striking out 19.1% of hitters while walking 11.6% and his left on-base percentage is at an unsustainable high of 85.6%.
Still, after his first two seasons where he posted ERAs of 5.48 and 5.02, any progress is positive, and with increased confidence, Gray could continue to improve.
Dave Roberts: Josiah Gray can be ‘really good’
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was Gray’s first skipper at the Major League level and he was impressed by what he saw from the pitcher.
“Josiah is tough, he’s very confident, he’s got an elite fastball, there’s a plus-changeup in there,” Roberts said. “The question was, can he spin the baseball? I haven’t looked so closely, but if he can spin the baseball, he can be really, really good.”
Nearly half of Gray’s pitchers are breaking balls (throwing the slider at a 30% rate and curveball at 19%), but neither generates all that much spin. His average curveball spin of 2,351 revolutions per minute ranks in the 31st percentile of Major League pitchers.
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