Ahead of Josiah Gray’s 27th season opener on Sept. 3, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez is wondering what he and his coaches are doing as the 25-year-old right-hander tries to turn things around after a tough game. He talked about what he was paying attention to. Get into the zone and stay ahead of the opposing batter.
When asked what he expected, Martinez said, “A strike.” “Competing, throwing some strikes, throwing early strikes, getting ahead early, taking command of the fastball. That. The biggest thing is his direction. Keeping his head on target and hitting the strike zone. Take aim. Then he did that and held the ball down, which he was good at. So today we want to get him back to that.”
However, Gray struggled to get off the ground, hitting a home run over right field on Luis Arraez’s fifth pitch, Josh Bell hitting a line drive single, and one out later, Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit a grounder double. Ta.Rookie outfielder Jacob Young succumbed to the sun on the ball in left-center field.), then added two more points with three consecutive walks, finishing the opening frame 3-0 with 32 pitches.
Gray calmed down, (After a disappointing and emotional reaction to a teammate’s missed fly ball at the end of the first inning.), he retired the team in order with 12 pitches in the second, hit a hit in the third, and walked in the fourth, but by that point the pitch count had reached 86, and Martinez headed to the bullpen in the fifth. .
With this loss, Gray was unable to win in his first seven games, but in 29 games he posted a 6.75 ERA, a 6.26 FIP, and a batting average of .236/.391/.400. 1⁄3 IP.
Gray went up to 148 2⁄3 IP made his first full appearance in the majors in 2022, hitting just .141 in his Sept. 3 start. 2⁄3 This season’s IP. Martinez decided to get some extra rest ahead of yesterday’s series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park.
“He’s been struggling a little bit lately. I just want to give him some rest,” Martinez explained, noting that the All-Star Gray hasn’t had any real rest this season. did.
Martinez didn’t want to silence Gray and said extended rest was the best option.
Eleven days later, Gray took the mound in Pittsburgh with a tweaked pitch (He started as if pitching from the stretch before going into a modified windup.), struck out a season-high 10 batters without giving a walk (This is the second time this season, and the first since the game against Houston in mid-June.). Gray allowed two hits and two runs, both home runs, but those were the only hits he allowed in the first five innings in six or more innings pitched on the mound.
Gray never really pitched down the stretch until he allowed a two-out single in the Pirates’ sixth inning that stranded runners. In the bottom of the seventh inning, he allowed only four or five hits overall and struck out the 10th batter of the day, but Jordan Weems put runners on second, third, and first base and was removed from the game. Out and strand the inherited runner.
“He attacked the strike zone,” Martinez said after the 2-0 loss in the final at PNC Park. “His direction was much better today. Overall, he threw the ball really well.”
The mechanical adjustments were worked on by the starters during the extended break between appearances.
“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Martinez explained.
“We’re trying to keep recruiting him. Keep him under control. But he was really good today. It was good to see that so we can build on that.” Ta.”
“For me it was about how do we do things instead of simplifying things,” Gray told reporters at the post-match scrum. .So we worked together in the bullpen. [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey and everyone there. It felt good and I felt like I could roll with it. So the initial profits are good and it will only continue to grow from there. ”
When asked what he focused on during his work hours between starts, Gray had a two-word answer.
“Throw a strike.”
Martinez elaborated further.
“It was more important to set the direction,” he said of the thinking behind the mechanical adjustments.
“We thought about how we could slow him down a little bit and he worked on that and he was really, really good today.
“If we keep him there, as we all knew, he’s an All-Star. We’ll keep him there, but right now it’s all about consistency with him.”
“He was throwing a lot more strikes than he was before,” catcher Keibert Ruiz said of the adjustment and what worked for Gray early on. “He did a really good job getting ahead of the batters early in the count.”
Asked what worked for him, Gray said, “Early strikes, first-pitch strikes, and finishing with all my pitches.”
“But today it was just a matter of moving forward early and just believing in myself. I use the whole plate. So, it was a good day.”
Gray had 13 swinging strikes spread across his pitches, made 17 called strikes, seven of them with sinkers, and leaned into pitches more (38%) than any other starter this year (season average 14.7%). .
“He primarily throws a sinker,” Martinez said. “He tries to throw a four-seam every once in a while to get the ball up, but he’s more of a sinker/cutter now. He threw some changeups there today as well, which was kind of great. ” But for the most part, he held the ball down. And when he’s good, the ball goes down, and when he’s really good, he can throw strikes, and that happened today. ”
What was more noticeable to the manager: hitting a season-high 10K or Gray not giving up a walk to a batter?
“There were no walks,” Martinez said. “No walks. Like I said before, strikeouts are sexy. That’s great. But for him to be able to accomplish what he did, 10 strikeouts, no walks, that’s great.”
What about his catcher? 10K or Norwalk? “Both,” Lewis said.