How Sonny Gray has already made some St. Louis Cardinals history

The St. Louis Cardinals are putting as much faith as possible in Sonny Gray when he makes his debut.

Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals are entering their 143rd season of existence in 2024 with 11,202 wins, 11 World Series championships, and 18 retired numbers under their belts. Countless other players have made their mark on St. Louis history while wearing the Cardinals uniform as well. After Tuesday's announcement by manager Oliver Marmol, you can add the newly signed Sonny Gray to the Redbirds’ record book.

Without even stepping on the mound in a regular season game, Gray made Cardinals history by being named St. Louis’ 2024 Opening Day starter against the Dodgers on March 28 in Tinsel Town.

Per Derrick Goold of STLtoday.com, the 2023 AL Cy Young runner-up is only the third first-year Cardinal since 1910 to be announced as the Opening Day starter.

Sonny Gray is already the Cardinals Opening Day starter

The last pitcher to have the honors? Kyle Lohse in 2008. Albeit Lohse was not Tony La Russa’s planned starter for the 2008 opener at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright was in line to pitch Opening Day against the Rockies, but rain washed out the March 31 opener and pushed it back to April 1. The rainout also took the ball out of Wainwright’s hands and put it in Lohse’s lap.

It was quite the welcome to the Gateway to the West for Lohse, who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent only 18 days prior on March 14, 2008. After his surprise Opening Day start, Lohse set a new career high at the time with 15 wins in a season. In total, the righty pitched to a 15-6 record with a 3.78 ERA and ate up 200.0 innings on the nose.

Before Lohse, the only other first-year Cardinals in the team’s history to start on Opening Day were Darryl Kile in 2000, Andy Benes in 1996, Vic Willis in 1910, and Jack Taylor in 1904. Gray is set to join Benes and Kile as first-year Cardinals who were the announced Opening Day starter. A little rain helped Lohse find his way into the Cardinals’ history books.

Cardinals fans are hoping Gray can repeat his 2023 season or have as good a first season in St. Louis in 2024 as Lohse did back in 2008. The 34-year-old Gray is coming off an 8-8 season with a 2.79 ERA in Minnesota where he earned his third All-Star selection.

In this unique history-making scenario, there is more good news for Gray and Redbirds fans. Since 1910, first-year Cardinals pitchers who have gotten the ball on Opening Day have pitched to a combined 2.12 ERA. Kile earned the win against the Cubs in 2000 by tossing six innings of one-run ball at Busch. Loshe pitched five shutout innings versus the Rockies in 2008 while Benes delivered a quality start against the Mets at Shea Stadium by allowing only three runs in six innings.

So, one month from tomorrow at Dodger Stadium, with Shohei Ohtani set to make history with his Dodgers debut, Gray will shine some sun in the St. Louis history books with his historic start. More importantly, Gray will attempt to steal the spotlight in Hollywood against the star-studded Dodgers lineup and make 2024 Cardinals Opening Day more Sonny for the road team.         

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