Cincinnati Reds: Do not overreact to Sonny Gray’s poor outing

CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 31: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Sonny Gray’s first game with the Cincinnati Reds was not what fans had hoped to see, but there’s no reason to overreact. It’s just one game.

Okay folks, let’s just calm down. I know we’ve been without baseball for five months and then two more days because the rain, but there’s no reason to overreact to Sonny Gray‘s performance on Sunday afternoon. The Cincinnati Reds fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 and Gray most certainly did not have his best stuff. But it’s a long season.

Let’s pause for just a moment, take a break from criticizing, and think about this logically for just a second. While playing conditions are never an excuse for a poor performance, it was 35 degrees at first pitch on Sunday afternoon, the second-coldest game ever played at Great American Ball Park.

Let’s also remember that Gray was slated to pitch on Saturday afternoon, but the weather didn’t cooperate and that game was postponed until Memorial Day. Again, not an excuse, but we all know that pitchers are creatures of habit and don’t like disruptions in their routine.

Gray was not good. The right-hander got in trouble early and often and it began with an error while covering first base. I’ll make the argument that Joey Votto needed to deliver that ball on a line, but regardless the play wasn’t made. It all went downhill from there. Gray was finished after 2.2 innings. He allowed five hits and three runs while walking four batters.

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Sonny Gray, however, did not make any excuses for his poor performance. Check out his comments, via Reds.com, regarding his quick exit from Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh:

"“I threw 10 innings in spring, didn’t walk a guy. I threw 2 2/3 today and walked four and hit one. I didn’t put guys away. I didn’t throw strikes.”"

I have two takeaways from these comments. First, unlike some players, Robert Stephenson comes to mind, Gray took ownership for his poor performance. While he could’ve blamed his start being pushed back or the frigid conditions, he didn’t. He stepped up and put the onus on himself. I like that.

Second, and perhaps more important, don’t forget that Gray only pitched in 10 innings during Spring Training due to injury. Fellow starters Tanner Roark (21.1) and Anthony DeSclafani (23.2) got more than 20 innings of work this spring. Those reps are important.

It’s early folks. We’re just 2 games in to 162-game season in which almost every team in Major League Baseball will lose at least 60 games. We’ve said all offseason that the NL Central is going to be the toughest division in baseball, therefore we shouldn’t be shocked when the Reds and Pirates split a two-game series. Don’t forget the Pirates won 82 games last season.

Let’s not hit the panic button over just one start. The Atlanta Braves, who won the NL East last season, are 0-3. The Baltimore Orioles, the perceived worst team in baseball, took 2-of-3 from the New York Yankees in The Bronx. The Yankees are expected by many to win the AL East and maybe even win the World Series.

My point is, it’s early. Now, we obviously don’t want to see the Cincinnati Reds get off to the horrendous start that they did last season, but it’s doubtful that this team will go down that road. The Reds have a much more experienced group of starters and a much more potent lineup than last year’s squad that got off to a 3-18 start.

In saying that, the bats have got to wake up. The Cincinnati Reds 1-5 hitters in the two game series with the Pirates were 3-for-35 (.085). As bad as Gray’s performance was, that’s not going get it done either.

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Today is a new day, and Sonny Gray will get another opportunity on Friday against these very same Pittsburgh Pirates. To be fair, there were plenty of opportunities for Pittsburgh to blow the doors off and they never quite took advantage, leaving the possibility of a Reds’ rally deep into the game. Let’s hope brighter days are ahead for Sonny Gray.