With the Los Angeles Dodgers needing to fill Clayton Kershaw’s spot in the starting rotation, they effectively turned to top pitching prospect Josiah Gray, who appeared Tuesday night after an opener for his MLB debut.
Gray’s introduction to the big leagues was a rude awakening, as the 23-year-old was tasked with facing a first-place San Francisco Giants lineup loaded with veteran talent. As soon as he took the mound in the third inning, Giants outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. tagged Gray for a 413-foot solo shot.
Through three more innings of work, Gray allowed home runs to Thairo Estrada and Mike Yastrzemski and left the game trailing 6-1.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nevertheless was encouraged with Gray’s performance and announced the right-hander is going to now make a start Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.
Although Gray struggled with mistake pitches throughout the night, he did show flashes of what makes him the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization. He managed to strike out seven Giants through four innings pitched, getting Wilmer Flores to chase a ball out of the zone for his first Major League strikeout.
“I would say it was everything and then some,” Gray said of his debut. “Seeing 40,000-plus people was really a surreal feeling to see a lot of fans and support. That was really fun to see. I’m excited to see that again for however long I can.”
Starting nod puts Gray back in a familiar role
Gray has been molded as a starting pitcher throughout his time in the Minors and is expected to play that role at the big league level. However, including one with Triple-A Oklahoma City, Gray’s last two times pitching have now come out of the bullpen.
“It’s definitely different,” Gray acknowledged. “Only coming off of one outing like that in OKC before I did it [Tuesday], so it’s definitely different. The routine is thrown into a little whirlwind but at the end of the day you kind of just have to make sure you’re ready on the mound.
“So I did what I needed to do pregame and once I got out to the bullpen I made sure I had all my pitches going and felt loose enough to get out there and give them my best. It’s a little different, but it isn’t too different to where I feel like I can’t pitch.”
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