Reds’ Sonny Gray blames Yankees pitch choice for his 2018 struggles

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray is getting a fresh start after being traded from the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds.

But the right-hander is partly blaming one of his worst seasons on how the Yankees handled him.

“They wanted me to be (Masahiro) Tanaka and I’m way different from him,” Gray told The Athletic.

More specifically, they tried to get him to throw too many sliders, instead of his  curveball, and he says sliders are not his strong suit.

“I can’t command my slider that well,” he said. “I want to throw my slider in the dirt with two strikes, and that’s about it. … 

“When I try to throw sliders for a strike, I get around it and it’s just a (lousy) spinning pitch. I don’t know how people throw sliders for strikes that are still tight, good pitches. I’m at 2-0 and I’m throwing a slider, and either I’m throwing a (lousy) slider in the zone, or I’m yanking it into the dirt and it’s 3-0.”

Gray’s 4.90 ERA was the second highest of his career and his 1.496 WHIP matched his worst. His 3.9 walks per nine innings and his 2.16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio were career worsts.

Gray told The Athletic that during a late-season relief appearance against the Boston Red Sox, he decided to throw the way he wanted.

“I just threw 94-mph cutters — six up, six down, four punchies, and I thought maybe I’ll make the postseason roster here … but I didn’t,” he said.

Gray has yet to pitch in a game with the Reds because he dealt with stiffness in his elbow earlier in spring training. But Gray threw in a live batting practice session on Tuesday and threw his fastball, changeup and curveball for strikes.

“I’m definitely ready to get into a game,” Gray told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I don’t know when it will be.”

Contributing: Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer

 

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