Sonny Gray didn’t particularly enjoy his time with the New York Yankees. Looking at his stats from his time in New York would tell you as much.
But the Cincinnati Red pitcher’s discontent with the Bronx Bombers goes farther than that, he recently revealed. Gray alleges the Yankees wanted him to throw his slider more often, which is a pitch he doesn’t have full confidence in throwing, at least not as much as the Yankees preferred.
“They had me throw more breaking balls than I ever had before,” Gray told The Athletic’s Eno Sarris, saying New York tried to make him pitch more like established Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.
“… When I try to throw sliders for a strike,” he later added, “I get around it and it’s just a (expletive) 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 (expletive) slider in the zone, or I’m yanking it into the dirt and it’s 3-0 and I’m screwed either way.
“They love sliders. Sliders are a great pitch. The numbers say slider is a good pitch, but you might not realize how many shitty counts you’re getting in while throwing all those sliders. They wanted me to be Tanaka and I’m way different from him.”
Gray initially pitched OK after the Yankees acquired him prior to the 2017 trade deadline. Things started to go sideways in 2018, though, when Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA while averaging a career-high 3.9 walks per nine innings and allowing 14 home runs in 30 appearances.
He’s hoping a fresh start with the Reds will get him back to his 2015 form, which saw him earn an All-Star nod with the Oakland Athletics and finish third in American League Cy Young voting.
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