Josiah Gray told reporters he was too much in his own head at times in Saturday night’s start against the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park, and the six walks he allowed were not a thing that would ever happen again.
“You know, there are some times when I overthink, and I try to be way too perfect and then nights like tonight happen,” the 23-year-old right-hander said, “where I have six walks, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more than three in a game in my pro career — so, obviously, it’s an anomaly and it’s never going to happen again.”
Once Gray was done for the night against the Bucs, after five innings of work, left-hander Alberto Baldonado and right-hander Andres Machado walked two batters each in a rough, four-run sixth that decided the game in favor of the home team, with the Pirates going up 9-5 in what ended up a 10-7 win.
“You got to limit the walks,” Gray said of his own six free passes. “I’ve got to stop shooting myself in the foot, per se, and [start] just going at guys, stop overthinking, to be able to go five innings, even with six walks, I think it’s a testament that my stuff, when it’s in the zone, it’s going to play.”
Gray’s manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters on Sunday morning that he wanted to sit down with all his pitchers and once again discuss the damage walks will do, especially a total of ten in one game.
“Last night, I didn’t talk to them,” Martinez said. “I plan on talking to them all today. They’re going to go out right now and get ready to throw, and then when they come back in I just want to talk to all of them, and it’s going to be a conversation that I want them to get involved in. It’s not going to be me dictating anything, I want to hear from them, and I want them to tell me what’s going on.”
The fourth-year skipper did note, however, that there’s a fine line between making clear as possible that the walks are unacceptable, while avoiding having his pitchers tense up, and potentially start thinking too much when they’re out on the mound.
“This is the reason why I want them to speak and have the conversation,” he explained. “I don’t want to come off as, ‘Hey, you got to throw strikes and you can’t walk — ‘ That’s not what this is about. I want to hear from them, and this way for me it’s about getting on the same page with them.
“I might hear something from them that I say, ‘Hey, that’s an easy fix, we can fix that, we can address that,’ but I want each and every one of those guys to speak up today, which they will. I know they will, and we’ll just talk about it and tell them that, ‘Hey, it happens, nobody is perfect, don’t try to be perfect, I don’t want perfect, I want consistency.’ And hopefully we’ll get it right.”
Martinez is, of course, aware, that a lot of his pitchers are in the process of establishing themselves at the major league level and some of them are pitching in situations they haven’t necessarily been in before.
“For the most part, those guys have been put in situations, like I said, in different spots, high-leverage, low-leverage, some guys are pitching back end of the games, and I know that,” he explained. “I want them to understand that I’m putting you in situations that you might not be accustomed to, but just go out there and relax and just make your pitches.
“I’m putting you there because I believe in you. And I want to see how you can do, so don’t put any added pressure on yourselves, just go out there and have fun, you’re here because we believe that you can help us win, not only now, but in the future, so it’s your chance to go out there and make a name for yourself, just go out there and have fun.”