Gray deals in first start vs. organization that drafted him

June 4th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- Years before Nationals starting pitcher had solidified himself in the team’s rotation, he was a promising young prospect in the Reds' organization, fresh off a season as the top pitcher in NCAA Division-II.

Gray was selected by the Reds in the supplemental second round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Le Moyne College in New York. After just 12 games in their system, the right hander was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and after rising to be the team’s No. 2 prospect in 2021, was shipped off once again, this time to the Washington Nationals at the Trade Deadline of that same year.

After a winding journey over the course of his first few seasons as a professional, the 24-year old faced off against the Reds for the first time Friday, and made sure to show them what they missed out on when choosing to part ways with him.

Gray went six innings in his outing, while striking out nine and propelling his team to an 8-5 victory in Game 2 of the series.

“I just wanted to go out there and put the team in a good position to win,” Gray said postgame. “Obviously the first inning was a little shaky, but knowing that I can go out there and prove myself and have a good outing for the team … have their front office kind of think twice about what they did a few years ago.”

Gray had difficulties when facing his other former organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers, last week, lasting just three innings while giving up seven runs. This time around, Gray answered the call, kept his emotions in check, and helped get his club back in the win column, breaking a mini four-game losing streak.

Gray was handed a wake-up call a mere three batters into the game. After a fielding error placed Brandon Drury on first base, Reds left fielder Tommy Pham launched a two-run blast to center field that tipped off center fielder Victor Robles’ glove.

From there, the flip switched and Gray became a totally different pitcher, much to the delight of manager Dave Martinez.

“For [Gray], it's just the growing pains he’s going to have,” Martinez added. “He’s got to shake it off and go back out there and compete again, and that's what he did.”

A third-inning single by Matt Reynolds and three walks were the only other blemishes on Gray’s otherwise superb outing. He seldom found himself pitching from the stretch, and he mixed his pitches nicely.

“After the home run in the first, he settled down and had command of his pitches,” Martinez said. “He threw the ball really well.”

“I felt in control of my body,” Gray said. “I felt like my pitches were doing exactly what I needed them to do and just felt completely confident out there. Just not letting one pitch take away from my whole outing.”

Gray threw his slider 44% of the time, his 4-seam fastball 40% of the time and his curveball 15% of the time.