When Rangers signed Jon Gray, a few questions popped up in my mind. First, how would his throws go in Arlington versus Denver? How long could Gray last throughout the season? Finally, how does he fit into the rotation?
Jon Gray’s season immediately started well until it went downhill in the fourth moto of his first start. Next, Gray suffered a blister, followed by a knee injury. Now he is healthy and throwing as well as he has throughout his career. “I would say it has definitely improved,” Jon told me as he assessed his season midway through. “[I] there were things ahead [where] it was a little hard to ride. But I feel that things are progressing [and] the last starts have been great.
“We could see the benefits,” Rangers co-starting coach Brendan Sagara said of Jon Gray. “We knew there was [a] best breaking ball out there, best fastball, [and] the opponent. At the start of the year, with a blister and the knee, we knew we weren’t getting the best version of him, and to his credit, he wanted to go out there every five days and keep fighting. After spending seven seasons with the Rockies, Gray is in his first year with the Rangers, and the difference in the field is very noticeable.
Starts in Rangers history of at least 7.0 SHO IP with one or zero hits allowed, no walks and 9 strikeouts:
– Yu Darvish, 04/02/13 at HOU (8.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 SO)
– Jon Gray, tonight against OAK (7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO)
— Texas Rangers PR (@TXRangersPR) July 14, 2022
Sagara told me Rangers would see how Gray’s stuff performed at sea level and the terrain data versus Denver because the home/road splits regarding Jon’s stuff were vast. “We knew how his [stuff] worked and what it was capable of producing in terms of spin. So putting all of those things together allowed us to make a pretty informed decision. Gray said he noticed a change not only in his throws but also in his body. ” I feel better. I didn’t lack energy, so I think it was better for my body.
Looking at the overall numbers, there’s a conscious reminder of when Gray was back at full strength. However, his fastball speed is averaging one mph more than in 2021. Jon’s K/9 is as high as it has been since 2017 and his walk rate is dropping. “I feel like I have a lot more tools to use, and I can use them more often and more available,” Jon Gray told me. “I’ve become a better all-around pitcher, so I don’t think I rely on the same things that I relied on all the time.” That’s what Rangers saw and hoped for when they signed Jon Gray before the lockout. “The speed of power over seven [or] eight innings, the wipeout slider, [and] feel the curve ball [are] all the things we’ve seen indicators for are exactly what it’s been [and] we were very satisfied.
Jon Gray, K’ing the Side.
5Ks at 2. pic.twitter.com/KEpbpIp8pS
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 14, 2022
The first two months were all about returning Jon Gray to his original form. Looking at the last nine starts, Jon Gray and Martín Pérez become the two-headed Rangers monster on the mound. He bats with strikeouts, gets out of the zone a little more than in previous seasons, and the slider is dirty. Looks like Gray is getting better and better.
There are a few hiccups here and there, and he hasn’t had much help from the defense side, which Gray admits he would do but takes a different approach. “I think about it a bit,” Gray said when asked when the defense isn’t playing behind him if he thinks about it. “But it’s more of a thought like just washing that. I dwelled on some of the things that happened on the ground [and] it really eats at you, and it makes it harder to make the next pitch, and you kind of get into a negative rut.
The key for Jon Gray is consistency, which Jon and Brendan Sagara pointed out to me is what Gray needs to work on. “I don’t think it’s necessary to make a pitch better than it is, [but] I need to get better at using them and be more efficient. Efficiency will be key. “He’s got some high-end stuff for spin-type power,” Sagara said. “It brings the same quality of shots to the mound every inning, game and start because on the days it all clicked; it’s twelve punches [which] is fun to watch. Even on the days he doesn’t, it’s six one-run innings and ten punches. [It’s] just consistency.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward says Jon Gray is the guy likely to start in Miami on Thursday against the Marlins #StraightUpTX
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) July 16, 2022