By Christopher Stephano
Between Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, etc., it’s easy for even Yankees fans to get lost in their team’s star power. However, one forgotten pitcher near the bottom of the rotation might ultimately hold the key to the Yankees’ success in 2018.
The 2018 Yankees are ripe with talent and interesting story lines. Will Judge and Stanton be the best power-hitting duo since Mantle-Marris? Can Severino continue to develop as an ace? Will the Yankees powerful bullpen repeat its 2017 dominance?
Amidst all the excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of Sonny Gray.
The former A’s ace slots fourth in the Yankees’ rotation. After posting a pedestrian 3.72 ERA last year after the Yankees acquired him from Oakland, it’s understandable that Yankees fans have largely forgotten about Gray.
However, fans should reacquaint themselves with Gray. He is a legitimate star pitcher with sky high potential. In fact, a compelling case could be made that he’s the best pitcher in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Before calling me crazy, let’s take a closer look at the Yankees’ pitching staff.
|Pitcher||Career Record||Career ERA|
The stats in the above table detail the career numbers of the Yankees’ top four starting pitchers. Can you guess who is who?
Did it surprise you to learn that Gray (Pitcher B) has the lowest career ERA of any of the Yankees’ starters?
Tanaka and Sabathia are both talented veterans, but they are also aging and inconsistent.
Tanaka posted an atrocious 4.74 ERA and a 13-12 record last season. A rebound is certainly possible, but wear and tear on his arm may also be taking its toll.
Sabathia lost his velocity and has developed into a crafty veteran southpaw. However, the last time Sabathia posted an ERA below 3.69 was 2012. His best days are clearly behind him.
At this point in their respective careers, it’s difficult to argue that either Tanaka or Sabathia are more effective pitchers than Gray.
Yankees’ ace Severino is only two years removed from a disastrous 3-8, 5.83 ERA season. He is yet to reach his 25th win in the majors. Severino is immensely talented and will most likely be an ace for years to come, but he is also young and inexperienced.
Unlike the rest of the Yankees’ rotation, Gray is both experienced and still in his prime (age 28). After having a year to adjust to a new city, team, and ballpark, Yankees fans should expect Gray to flourish in 2018.
Locked in as the #4 starter, the only question is will the Yankees make adequate use of Gray?
The last time Gray pitched 200+ innings, he went 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA and made the All-Star team. If new manager Aaron Boone wants to get the most out of his talented roster, he will find a way to make sure Gray reaches that threshold again.