Sonny Gray won’t be given another opportunity to pitch through his recurrent woes as a starter.
On Thursday afternoon, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman told WFAN Radio that the 28-year-old right-hander will be utilized as a relief option indefinitely, and newly acquired veteran Lance Lynn will fill the void left by Gray in the rotation.
“Sonny will be all hands on deck,” Cashman told WFAN. “He could come back in the mix if necessary or hopefully pitch well when needed coming out of the pen.”
While it appeared that Gray had found some secret sauce after three consecutive quality outings (1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings), he was shellacked in the Yankees’ 7-5 loss to the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday in the Bronx, allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks across a measly 2.2 innings of work. In the third inning, Gray was replaced by Lynn, who then pitched 4.1 shutout innings in his New York debut.
“I’ve struggled and they’ve given me ample opportunity to figure it out,” Gray told YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits on Thursday. “I continued to grind… I’m going to go to the pen and continue to try to figure it out… I don’t think my days as a starting pitcher in this league are over… but right now, it’s all about winning and doing my part… and my role right now is in the bullpen.
“Hopefully when I look back at this, it’s just a bump in the road, something I can turn into a positive.”
In 21 starts this season, Gray is 8-8 with a 5.56 ERA and 7.71 home ERA (11 starts).
“It’s frustrating obviously for all parties involved,” Cashman said. “I thought he’d turned the corner for us in July alone. I’m looking at his numbers, and it’s surprising because it just doesn’t feel like what you’ve been seeing over the course of the year.
“It’s obviously a tough environment when you’re struggling, and all we can do is ask for him to continue to fight through it. He was struggling.”
Although Lynn hasn’t pitched to the career numbers found on his bubblegum card this year (7-8, 5.10 ERA in 20 starts with the Minnesota Twins), he does have the big league resume and experience to succeed in a market like New York. In six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2011-17), the 31-year-old went 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA in 183 games. In 2017, his first year back from Tommy John surgery, he won 11 games and owned a 3.43 ERA.
“When they’ve told me to go pitch, I go pitch. I just try not to think about anything except getting whatever hitter in the box out,” Lynn told reporters on Wednesday. “If I do that, I’ll be fine. I know what I’m capable of and what I’ve done in the past. From here on, when my name’s called, I’m going to go pitch, wherever that may be.”
The Yankees (68-38), which are currently 5.5 games back of the first place Boston Red Sox (75-34) in the AL East standings, open a four-game series at Fenway Park on Thursday night.