Sonny Gray has only spent three months of his Major League career as a fixture in the Yankees’ rotation, but the 28-year-old right-hander fully expects his staff to pull its own weight while team expectations mount in 2018.
“All these guys have had a lot of success in their careers, so we just have to worry about doing our part,’’ Gray said of starters Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery to the New York Post on Thursday. “We have a good enough rotation to keep us in every game.
“I like the guys we have. We’ve been through it together now.’’
Although the Yankees had rumored interest in starters Gerrit Cole and Yu Darvish earlier this winter, the organization’s most recent deal for a new rotation piece came back in July, when Oakland traded Gray to New York for a package of prospects — pitcher James Kaprielian, infielder Jorge Mateo, and outfielder Dustin Fowler.
In 11 regular season outings with the Yankees, Gray wasn’t spectacular. Granted, he received little run support, but he finished 4-7 with a 3.73 ERA. His inconsistencies carried into the postseason, as he struggled against the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS but prevailed in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
New York isn’t always an easy environment to settle into, but Gray believes he’s made the necessary adjustments to help push the club toward a championship.
“I feel way more comfortable now,” Gray told the Post. “Just coming into spring and knowing people, I don’t feel like I’m meeting everyone for the first time.
“When I came over last year, it was already a really good team. That’s still true now. We have enough older guys that understand it’s a long season and a process. There’s gonna be ups and downs like last season, but we’re ready to go.”
CC’s GLAD FREE AGENCY IS BEHIND HIM
A historically dormant offseason has ignited a feud between the league and the players’ union, and veteran CC Sabathia is relieved that he struck while the iron was still hot.
“I’d be panicking,” Sabathia told the New York Daily News. “I don’t know [free agent Jake Arrieta] at all, but just to see guys in spring training getting ready and things like that and you have a family and you’re trying to figure stuff out factors into how you pitch and play.”
Earlier this winter, the 37-year-old southpaw returned to the Yankees on a one-year, $10 million deal. He reportedly garnered interest from the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels, but ultimately elected to remain in the Bronx after finishing 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA last season.
“Everything was kind of moving slow for me, too,” said Sabathia. “I just thought that was kind of the pace of the offseason, but I’ve never seen what we’ve been going through this year. It’s crazy. I was just happy I was able to get [my deal] done.
“When I was a free agent you got paid off of what you did. Now guys are going to get paid for what they can do throughout that contract. It’s just a different landscape in baseball, the way teams are changing. GMs are getting younger and smarter and they want to get more value out of their players.”
CHAPMAN NOT WORRIED ABOUT 2017 BLUNDERS
Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman didn’t live up to his five-year, $86 million contract in 2017. His fastball was erratic and his lack of command forced a brief demotion. His health was also a concern, as he spent time between May and June on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.
Chapman realizes that 2017 was tough. But the soon-to-be 30-year-old lefty has put those woes behind him.
“You definitely want to keep improving as a player,” Chapman told NJ.com on Thursday. “Definitely don’t want to go through the same rough patch that I went through last year. You want to prevent that from happening. That’s why I keep saying that hard work is the key. Focus on what you want to accomplish and be more consistent.
“The expectation from us is to keep going further. The key is to work really hard, focus on what you want to accomplish this season, definitely go beyond last season and get to the World Series and hopefully win it all.”
CHAD GREEN A POTENTIAL NO. 6?
According to YES Network’s Jack Curry, Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said that reliever Chad Green will be stretched out as a starter, but he also said it would “take a lot” of things to happen for the 26-year-old righty to leave his role out of the bullpen.
“Obviously we’re going to stretch him out because it’s a lot easier to go the other way [from starter back to reliever]. We know what we have going the other way,” Boone told the New York Daily News. “So it depends on the health of our roster and what other guys potentially emerge in that role, but it would obviously have to take a lot [of factors] given what we believe he is and the valuable role he filled last year.”
In 40 games last season, Green struck out 103 hitters in 69.1 innings and finished 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA.
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