The Yankees have reached a crossroads with Sonny Gray where the path they choose to proceed could damage the rest of their season.
Gray lasted only two innings in Friday night’s 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. It probably took longer to get through customs in Canada than it did for Gray to pitch himself right back to the showers again.
Again. It’s again because Gray is currently mastering the art of repetition when it comes to short outings. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in his previous start, against Boston.
It’s bordering on insanity to keep sending him out to pitch every five days knowing he might not make it five innings. But this is exactly what the Yankees and their manager, Aaron Boone, are doing.
This isn’t lost on Gray either. At least that’s the impression following his start last week against Boston when the Yankee Stadium crowd booed him loudly.
“I feel like we’re the best team in baseball four out of five days and then I come out and do that,” said Gray.
That comes off as a pitcher fully aware he’s lost and needs time to figure it out. He should get that time, just not while starting for the Yankees right now.
Boone, when asked why leave Gray in the starting rotation, threatened the laws of logic with his response.
“Part of it is, right now, we feel he is our best option,” said Boone.
Best option for the opponent? Boone was watching the exact same game we all were. He has to know he might be better off at this point getting Carl Pavano on speed dial than running Gray back out there for his next start.
Gray labored through 62 pitches against Toronto when Boone decided to pull the plug. He gave up five runs, allowed five hits, and walked four. Gray’s now lost four of his last five starts.
To watch Gray pitch lately requires a box of Alka-Seltzer nearby. He falls behind in the count often and is unable to put hitters away.
“It’s early in the season anymore, Gray said. “I mean, this is when you’re expected to go out there and contribute and get in some type of rhythm and go out and put together solid starts back-to-back. And I haven’t been close to having been able to do that.”
The Yankees, at 56-29, are two games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the division. Gray’s struggles are arguably the difference right now and could be when it’s time for the playoffs in October.
Boone is a first-year manager, but he played in the Majors for 12 years. It’s respectable he’s giving Gray an opportunity to rebuild his confidence, but now it’s detrimental to the rest of the team and he has to know this.
This isn’t helping anyone involved. Boone, the Yankees, or Sonny Gray.