In his last four starts before taking on the Texas Rangers on the road in Globe Life Field on Saturday afternoon, Washington Nationals’ right-hander Josiah Gray was 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA, a 3.95 FIP, 11 walks, 22 Ks, and a .154/.267/.231 line against in 22 innings pitched in a stretch which saw manager Davey Martinez allowing him to test his limits and pitch deeper into his outings than he did late last year and early this season.
Gray took the mound in Arlington, TX coming off six shutout innings against Philadelphia’s Phillies at home in D.C., in a 117-pitch outing in which he allowed one hit and walked three.
“We let him go a little bit,” Martinez said after a 2-1 loss in that game. “But he battled, did well, but we really got to talk to him about trying to get so many swings and misses and trying to get some early contact, but he’s got good stuff. And if we can get him to start getting quicker innings, you’ll see him start to go into that seventh inning.
“His stuff is good,” the fifth-year manager added. “His stuff is really good. And he’s really learning. He battled today to get to those last couple outs, but he said he appreciated it, that was a good learning experience for him.”
Josiah Gray, 2 1st Inning Ks on Breaking Balls. pic.twitter.com/ZofvRPUtbI— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 25, 2022
Gray started the day in Texas with a streak of 16-straight scoreless innings going, and he did add one, but gave up a two-run home run after a one-out walk in the second, 2-0 Rangers.
He held the home team there through seven, however, striking out 9 of 26 batters faced in what ended up a 94-pitch effort in what was a 2-2 game when he left the mound...
Josiah Gray’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 61 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Gray recorded 17 swinging strikes overall (8 with his slider, 7 with his curve, and two with his fastball), and he picked up 16 called strikes (5 with his slider, 3 with his curve, and 8 with his four-seamer), with just 11 pitches fouled off, after Philly hitters fouled off 21 of his 117 pitches to run his pitch count up last time out and knock him out after six.
Gray also mixed things up in terms of his pitch selection, throwing 33% sliders, (up from an average of 28.6% on the season), 33% curveballs, (up from 23.8%), 29% four-seamers, (down from 44.3%), and 5% changeups, (up from 3.4%).
No-doubter from Nathaniel! pic.twitter.com/Pzf99K5zzH— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) June 25, 2022
“Clearly the breaking balls were working for him again, they were good ones,” Martinez told reporters after a walk-off loss to the Rangers. “He threw his fastball when he needed to, but his out-pitches were the breaking balls today. So, and he was in the zone.
“When he’s in the zone with those breaking balls it’s really good,” the manager added.
“He did exactly what he needed to do today, and like I said, he pitched outstanding.”
In his own post game, Gray said it was bittersweet to perform well in what ended up a loss for his team.
“It’s obviously good to pitch well, but obviously you want to win,” Gray said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“That’s the end goal at the end of every game. Whether I go three innings or seven, I want to win the game, as does everyone in the clubhouse. Yeah, it feels good. But there’s still that bitter ending to have that loss in the loss column.”
“Josiah did really well,” Martinez said. “He got 21 outs for us and pitched superbly.”