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Ranking Sonny Gray’s best starts with the Yankees

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Let’s remember the good times we had with Gray.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

With each passing day, the Sonny Gray era in the Bronx draws nearer to a conclusion. Since arriving at the trade deadline in 2017, the right-hander has had a rocky tenure in pinstripes. He had his share of shaky moments, but he also pitched fairly well at times. You can’t write him totally off!

To give Gray a proper farewell, I’m going to rank his best starts with the Yankees. I used Game Score as my guiding criteria. For a quick primer on the metric, here’s a handy explanation. It’s not a perfect tool, but it does a pretty fine job.

5. August 25, 2018 at Baltimore Orioles (Box Score) (PSA Recap)
Pitching Line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 79 pitches Game Score: 73

By early August, Gray pitched so poorly that he found himself reduced to a bullpen arm. In a funny turn of events, it was a disastrous start against the Orioles that got him demoted in the first place. The Yankees, however, had to turn to Gray during a double-header in Baltimore a few weeks later. Donning his Pickles jersey for Players’ Weekend, the right-hander hurled 6.1 innings of shutout ball. As Matt said at the time, he was “dill-ing”.

4. July 11, 2018 at Baltimore Orioles (Box Score) (PSA Recap)
Pitching Line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 90 pitches Game Score: 73

As it turns out, outside of his calamitous start, Gray pitched pretty well against the O’s in 2018. He tossed six shutout innings at Camden Yards before the All-Star break. Gray got into some trouble in the early innings, but it was smooth sailing after.

3. August 26, 2017 versus Seattle Mariners (Box Score) (PSA Recap)
Pitching Line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 106 pitches Game Score: 74

The fact that the only Yankee Stadium start to make this list came from 2017 will do nothing to dispel the narrative that Gray can’t pitch in the Bronx. During another Players’ Weekend, Gray held the Mariners to just one run — a home run to Carlos Ruiz. If only Pickles could pitch every game.

2. May 20, 2018 at Kansas City Royals (Box Score) (PSA Recap)
Pitching Line: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 92 pitches Game Score: 74

Back in May, it seemed like Gray just got off to a rough start. Maybe he was nibbling and needed a confidence-boosting start to get back on track. This should have been that game. He had no-hit stuff as he baffled an admittedly weak Kansas City lineup. The Yankees scored 10 runs on the day, but Gray represented the story of the game.

1. June 6, 2018 at Toronto Blue Jays (Box Score) (PSA Recap)
Pitching Line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 99 pitches Game Score: 84

True story: I thought Gray was going to throw a no-hitter in this game. He retired the first 12 batters he faced and looked masterful doing so. He worked himself into one jam the entire game, but fought his way out of it. This outing reminded everyone that Gray has huge upside. It’s too bad it didn’t shine through more frequently.