Sonny Gray, last year’s big trade deadline acquisition, has had a poor 2018, with an ERA of 5.56 and a role in the rotation that’s gone unthreatened only because the Yankees haven’t had any other real options. That last part changed this week when New York went out and got Lance Lynn, who hasn’t been good either, but certainly hasn’t had an all-around nightmare day like Gray had on Wednesday. And it just kept getting worse.
Despite a pretty good July, Gray started off August on the worst possible foot, giving up seven earned runs in just two and a third innings in a 7-5 loss to the quadruple-A Orioles. It was Gray’s sixth start of the season in which he’s allowed at least five runs in four or fewer innings; no Yankees pitcher in history has ever had so many in a single season.
That’s bad! Then Gray sort of smiled/smirked/grimaced when he got pulled from the game. This is also bad, even if not as a first-order thing.
“That’s how I handle things. I’ve done that my whole life,” Gray said of the smile. “When you get put in a hole like that as a team, as many times as I’ve done that to us this year, it’s a frustrating spot to be in. That’s kind of how I handled the situation. It’s kind of how I tell myself to move on and not think about it and not let [bad performances] get to you.”
As I said, this isn’t inherently a thing. It becomes a thing when the papers make it a thing, and, uh, it’s now a thing. Try to ignore the insufferable headline on this Post story and note that the tabloids do represent some slice of fan sentiment, though you can argue the extent to which it reflects opinion vs. shapes it.
Soon after Gray was pulled, someone dug up an old tweet of his:
Gray said this was an inside joke between him and his former minor league teammate Rashun Dixon, though Dixon’s Twitter account is deactivated so there’s no way to know what it was a response to. Gray’s own account was briefly deactivated soon after the tweet started making the rounds, and when it came back the tweet had been deleted.
“I’m not scared of my past. My past has helped shape who I am today,” said Gray, who was 22 when the tweet was posted. “If people want to try and question who I am, I’ll face that head on because I’m not scared of my past. Everything that’s happened in my past has done nothing but make me a better man.”
Gray would probably prefer to forget the smile and forget the tweet and bring everything back to pitching, except things aren’t so great there either right now. After he got yanked from the game, Lance Lynn came on and allowed five hits in four and a third innings of scoreless relief. This, of course, would put Lynn on track to start Monday night—Gray’s spot in the rotation—if that’s something the Yankees wanted to consider. And indeed they are considering.
“We do have some options now,” [manager Aaron] Boone said. “We’ll all get together and try and come up with the best solution, the best options going forward that’s going to help us win. In the end, that’s what it’s about.
“So we’re not going to be emotional about it right now. We’ll get together and we’ll talk through this and see what the best thing is.”
All in all, Sonny Gray has probably had better days than yesterday.