With a full season in New York lined up for Sonny Gray, what should we expect from the 28-year-old this season?
The New York Yankees traded for Sonny Gray at the trade deadline in order to push this team closer to a World Series. While the team forced a Game 7 in the ALCS, they couldn’t topple the eventual champions. One reason was the lack of starting pitching. Now with a full season ahead of him in New York, what do Gray’s projections look like?
Gray pitched a pretty good season last year between Oakland and New York. Over 162.1 innings, he finished with a 3.55 ERA, 1.207 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 10-12 record. Those numbers are all up from his 22-start 2016 season.
Looking at the splits between the two teams, Gray allowed more fly balls and home runs with the Yankees, 34.6 fly ball and 16.9 HR/FB rates. He was also not getting as many first-pitch strikes as a Yankee. Gray had an 11.6 swinging strike, 44.8 swinging and 301 O-Swing rates in the second half and 12.1/47.2/32.6, respectively, with Oakland in the first half.
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Fantasy owners did not want to buy on Gray after his 2016 season. He fell to the 22nd round in standard ESPN leagues, 210.8 ADP. At the end of this year, he finished as the No. 37 starting pitcher on the Player Rater. For the 58th starter off the board, that’s a good improvement on his value.
However, pitching in Yankee Stadium for half of his starts does not bode well for his home/road splits this season. We all know about the short porch in right field but that only helps left-handed hitters and right-handers that can push the ball to the opposite side. Yankee Stadium ranked second in home runs, so balls are flying all over the park.
Gray has pitched one excellent season and two good ones in his career. Yet, he was one of the most sought-after pitchers last year. From a real baseball perspective, the Yankees did not give up a lot to acquire Gray, so the risk wasn’t as great.
Gray ranks outside my top-50 starting pitchers for next season. He isn’t the best strikeout pitcher and allows his fair share of walks and home runs. Gray will have enough run support to pick up double-digit wins with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in the middle of the order.
Gray will make for a good SP4 in standard leagues. If you can draft a couple of pitchers with projected low ratio stats, Gray should be able to add to the counting stats while not damaging your ERA and WHIP. He will be worth his value in Round 19 in standard leagues.