Despite injuries, Gray seeing more consistent results

Right-hander holds Guardians to one unearned run in third start off injured list

September 24th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley believes that, in an ideal world, Jon Gray has what it takes to help lead a rotation. He has the execution, the plus secondary pitches and even the mound presence that teams crave in a front-line starter.

“He has top-of-the-rotation stuff,” Beasley said before Friday’s game. “He’s a No. 1 or No. 2 [starter]. He has the stuff to do that. He can definitely be at the top of the rotation, I believe that. He's not afraid. He competes. [We’ve] just got to keep him healthy.”

In the Rangers’ 6-3 loss to the Guardians at Globe Life Field on Friday night, Gray flashed that potential against the American League Central leaders.

Gray opened the matchup with three no-hit innings before Amed Rosario drove a leadoff triple in the fourth inning. He ultimately gave up one run, which was unearned, while completing five innings on a pitch limit in just his third start since coming off the injured list.

“He did really well,” Beasley said. “He attacked the zone, used all his pitches. He just attacked. He and [catcher Kevin Plawecki] did a good job getting on the same page and executing the game plan, so I’m really happy to see how he threw the ball tonight.”

Beasley added about Gray being a front-line starter postgame, “That’s my belief based on what I see. He has power stuff. He’s a top-of-the-rotation type guy for sure. When he's on, he can dominate a lineup. That's what guys with his stuff do. So yeah, I do believe that.”

Despite the positive results, Gray said he felt like he wasn’t at his best against the Guardians, noting he was a little bit erratic with his pitches. He threw 87 pitches and 56 strikes.

Gray explained that he felt like his biomechanics were off while still working back from the left oblique injury that didn’t quite allow him to go fully 100%. It worked out for the most part in-game, but Gray wasn’t fully pleased with the processes.

“I felt that when it was time to make a good pitch, we did that,” Gray said. “We made a pitch to get out of whatever situation we were in with runners on. I think just throwing strikes and filling the zone has been a success. It's been fun…. But I just felt like there were a lot of missed locations and the velo was down on some. To know that we can still go out there and pitch a good game makes you feel good.”

When healthy, Gray has been exactly what the Rangers expected when they signed him to a four-year, $56 million deal last offseason. But he’s also endured three separate stints on the injured list this season, including one immediately after Opening Day with a blister, another for a low-grade knee sprain and the most recent being the left oblique strain.

Gray hasn’t neared his innings total of 149 last year with Colorado, but through 116 1/3 he’s posted a 3.64 ERA, which would be the lowest of his career if the season ended with this outing.

While the season isn’t over yet, Gray said it’s been the most consistent he’s ever felt from the season’s start to finish, despite the injuries slowing him down.

“I'm not having games where we're giving them six or seven runs,” Gray said. “It feels good, but there are still some things [that are] going to get better. I really just want to stay healthy. I really want to make it my offseason goal just to be the best I can for next year. Hopefully, that’s 100% all the time, 100% of the year. So I think that's the best thing, because I think just getting into that groove where you're just going out there every day, that's what makes a good season.”