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Washington Nationals’ Josiah Gray goes slider-heavy vs Miami Marlins…

Josiah Gray mixed things up in a solid start against the Marlins…

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Josiah Gray struck out 10 of the 27 batters faced when he went up against Miami in D.C. in late April, but he also gave up seven hits, three walks, and four earned runs in that outing.

Going up against the Nationals’ NL East rivals again in last night’s series finale in the Marlins’ home park, Washington’s 24-year-old right-hander was coming off a rough start against the Houston Astros, who put five runs up on him in the first, as he struggled with his command before settling in and going six innings overall, with just one run allowed after the rough first.

Gray’s manager, Davey Martinez, liked how the starter responded to the early trouble with the Astros, and going into his second start of the season against the Marlins, he hoped to see the pitcher who was on the mound in the final five innings of his previous outing.

“Just continue to do what he’s been doing: Pound the strike zone, and get ahead, use all his pitches,” Martinez said. “He’s been consistent, he’s been good, you know, so other than the first inning of his last outing, he shut a pretty good-hitting team down, so we just want him to come down here, and forget about that first inning, and continue to do what he did the rest of the game.”

He also said the pitcher, acquired as one of four prospects who came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade last July 30th, has continued to make steady progress in his starts this season.

“He’s been good,” Martinez said. “He’s been working on a lot of different things, especially with his mechanics, on being consistent, high-leverage situations, staying in the moment, he’s done a lot better with that.

“So like I said, he’s getting better and he’s maturing each and every day he goes out there, so I’m looking forward to watching him pitch today.”

There was plenty of traffic on the basepaths throughout Gray’s outing in loanDepot park, as he gave up a run in the first with Jazz Chisholm, Jr. tripling and scoring on a sac fly, then another one in the second when he gave up back-to-back singles to start the frame, and a one-out sac fly, then it was Chisholm, Jr. again in the fifth, with a home run to center that tied things up at 3-3 in what ended up a 5-4 win for the Nationals in extras.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 65 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

Gray’s slider was particularly effective in Miami, as he recorded 15 swinging strikes on 27 swings at the pitch, 56%, (which he threw 44% of the time), recording 4 of 11 called strikes with the slider as well.

The heavy slider usage was up from a 2022 average of 25.4% sliders he’s thrown overall so far this season.

“It was by design, honestly, with that team, all the right-handed hitters,” Martinez said of Gray’s slider usage in the outing. “Try to pump one for a strike, then use your fastball up and then go back to your slider, and they did it well tonight.”

Screencap via BaseballSavant.com