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Washington Nationals’ Josiah Gray keeps making progress; Nats want to see more changeups...

Davey Martinez said Josiah Gray’s teammates think they’ve got a chance to win every time he takes the mound.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Winless in three outings, with a 9.60 ERA, an 8.54 FIP, five walks, 17 Ks, and a .288/.362/.712 line against in 15 innings pitched in those starts, and coming off a rough turn in the rotation against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he gave up five hits, three of them homers, three walks, and seven earned runs in 3 IP in which he threw 80 pitches, Josiah Gray was looking to bounce back in the fourth game with the Colorado Rockies in D.C. this weekend.

“Yeah, I’ll talk to him tomorrow and tell him to put this one aside,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after Gray went up against the Dodgers who traded him to the Nationals last July 30th.

“He’s been doing well, he’s very — we’ll go back and we’ll look at some of the video of tonight,” Martinez added, “and we’ll do some corrections.

“But like I said, he works really hard, and he always wants to get better, so he’ll come back in five days, and we’ll straighten him out and he’ll go out and compete again.”

Gray said he might have overdone it against the Dodgers’ lineup, trying to show LA they’d made a mistake by trading him away, three years after they’d acquired him from the Reds, after Cincinnati drafted him in the 2nd Round in 2018 and traded him later that year.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“I think that’s just the type of player I am,” Gray explained, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco. “And being sort of slighted, I guess you can say. Since I’ve been in pro ball, I’ve wanted to prove my former organizations wrong in that they traded a guy that is gonna go out there and work his butt off. So, unfortunately, today didn’t go my way. But I’m looking forward to facing the Dodgers again, facing the Reds whenever we face them, and going out there and just giving it my all and kind of just trying to put it to them.”

Gray didn’t have anything in particular to prove to the Colorado Rockies going into the start in the series finale in D.C., on Sunday, and his manager said he just wanted to see his starter throw strikes and mix things up a bit.

“He’s maturing every time he goes out there,” Martinez said. “He’s understanding who he is and what he needs to do. Today is no different. We want him to go out there and attack the strike zone, work both sides of the plate. We talked a lot about his changeup, like [Joan] Adon, he did throw a little bit more changeups. We want [Gray] to use that as well, but the biggest thing with Josiah is attacking the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters, and just go out there and like I said, there’s no limitations right now for him, we’re just going to let him go out there and let him pitch and see where he takes us.”

Gray ended up going five innings on 93 pitches, giving up a leadoff home run by Charlie Blackmon on the second pitch he threw, a 1-0 fastball up in the zone and over the middle, but that was the only run he allowed, and he held the Rockies to three hits total, though a start in which he walked more batters (4) than he struck out (3) is not ideal.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 56 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

Gray threw just three changeups (3%), which is about where’s he’s been all season (3.5%), threw 51% four-seam fastballs, up a bit from 45.6% overall this season, 29% sliders (26%), and 17% curves (24.9%), generating eight swinging, and 14 called strikes (9 with his FB) in the outing.

“He’s progressing really well,” Martinez said after the club held on for a 6-5 win, “... and he’s matured a lot. For him, the training wheels are off. Although he hasn’t gotten up to that 100-pitch mark yet, he’s competing, and he’s keeping us in games, and now it’s nice to know for our guys that playing behind him we have a chance to win every time he goes out there, so that’s pretty awesome, and these guys really feel that and they’re going out there and trying to score some runs for him, which is nice.”

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The manager reiterated he did want to see Gray mix in more changeups.

“Once again we’re going to drill him, especially in that bullpen, he needs to start throwing that changeup, especially against left-handed hitters. First inning example, 1-0 to Blackmon, and they tried to throw another fastball to him, and he’s leading off the game, he knows what he’s looking for. In that situation right there, it would have been a great opportunity for him to just show him a changeup, because that changes the way he thinks the rest of the day, but he went up and threw a fastball, and Blackmon is a good hitter, and smoked it. That’s something that like I said, we’ll keep working with him, getting him comfortable with doing it. He needs to start using it, we talked about it when he came out, and he agreed, so we’re going to get him in that bullpen and get him to really work on it, and show him and talk to him about when it’s effective.”