“He was up in his zone. Every ball that got hit hard was up, and his misses were almost right down the middle,” Davey Martinez said after Josiah Gray gave up five hits, four homers, and six runs total in four innings on the mound in Citizens Bank Park, as quoted by MASN writer Bobby Blanco.
“We’re keeping a close eye on him,” Martinez added at another point in his post game press conference following the club’s 7-2 loss in Philadelphia.
“He’s worked really hard to keep himself going. Hopefully, we won’t have to shut him down because I know he does not want that. He wants to continue to go. But we’ll monitor him.”
Gray, 20 starts and 106 innings into his first full season in the majors before taking the hill in Wrigley Field on Wednesday afternoon, struggled in his last few outings (8.53 ERA, 9.27 FIP, and a .276/.364/.737 line in his previous four starts) for the Nationals. He told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato, while things in his recent outings hadn’t gone his way, he was good to keep going.
Josiah Gray, Dirty 86mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/rRW8YxjNuP— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 10, 2022
“Sometimes it’s not going to go my way. But in terms of physically and everything like that, I feel like I’m prepared for every start that I’m lined up for,” the 24-year-old right-hander said.
He backed that up in his outing against the Cubs.
Gray looked sharp through six scoreless on Wednesday, but gave up his MLB-leading 29th home run on a 1-1 slider he left up for Nico Hoerner in the seventh, and he gave up a one-out single as well, before he was done, with the runner he left on coming around to score after he’d been replaced on the mound.
Gray recorded just eight swinging strikes (five with his slider) on 43 total swings, though he did record 19 called strikes, (10 with his slider, and seven with his four-seam fastball) in what ended up being slider-heavy (43%) outing against the Cubs (which was up from his season average of 28% sliders).
He left the mound with a lead, but didn’t factor in the decision in the Nationals’ 4-2 loss.
“I think today definitely was a change in mindset,” Gray told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Mixing in a couple different things and trying to locate at the bottom of the zone while also accessing the top. The curveball wasn’t working as well today as I wanted to, but I was able to throw my fastball down and my slider off of that. I think there’s a lot of room for success when I’m doing that. I’m definitely going to take that into my next outing and continue to pound the bottom of the zone, use the top of the zone as well.”
GRAVITY DOES NOT APPLY TO VICTOR ROBLES pic.twitter.com/OR7w9TcFsD— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 10, 2022
“Throughout the whole game, he kept the ball down, he elevated when he needed to, and then that last inning, started getting the balls up,” Martinez said after the game.
“Slider didn’t have that bite like it had earlier, but that’s six-plus innings at 96 pitches, for me that’s a great outing for him.
“After a couple games of struggles, he made some adjustments, which was awesome, so if we can continue to build off of that, that’s great.”