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USATSI

The struggling Reds hosted the Cardinals on Tuesday night (STL-CIN GameTracker), and they turned to ace Sonny Gray to earn them an important win as they struggle to remain in the NL playoff picture. Well, things didn't go as planned from the Cincy standpoint. 

Behold what the Cardinal bats inflicted upon Gray:

Sonny Gray
CIN • SP • 54
vs. STL, 9/1/20
IP2/3
H5
R6
SO1
BB3
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Of Gray's 38 pitches, just 17 went for strikes. Gray's fastball velocity was down a little, but mostly the line above is the result of his inability to command his breaking ball. When you throw the curve as often as Gray does, that's going to mean trouble. 

Relevant moving pictures forthcoming: 

Here's a blow-by-blow of Gray's foul-smelling evening at the ballpark: 

  • Single
  • Single
  • Walk
  • Double
  • Ground out
  • Strikeout
  • Walk
  • Single
  • Walk
  • Single

A couple of key hits just barely eluded the fielders on the right side of the Cincy infield, but that's a ritual beating in any context. It's also worth noting that Gray departed with two runners on base, so things would've been even uglier if Lucas Sims hadn't struck out Tommy Edman to end the frame. 

This is the first time in Gray's career that he's started a game and failed to work at least one inning. In terms of Game Score, which is a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher's dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Gray in this start registered a 16. Twice before he's put up a 15, and on one occasion he had another 16. So, yes, it's no exaggeration to say Gray has rarely been worse than he was on Tuesday. For his troubles, Gray saw his 2020 ERA rise from 1.94 to 3.19. 

As for Gray's Reds, they continue to struggle to live up to their preseason promise. Coming into Tuesday's slate, the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) gave the Reds less than a one-in-three shot to make the expanded postseason field. Thanks in large measure to Gray, that figure's probably going to get a little worse.