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Veteran right-hander Sonny Gray, the St. Louis Cardinals' marquee offseason addition, will make his first start of 2024 – and his first start in a Cardinals uniform – on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies

Gray had been in line to be the Cardinals' Opening Day starter, but he suffered a hamstring strain during spring training, which landed him on the injured list to start the regular season. Instead, Miles Mikolas started the Cardinals' season opener in Los Angeles. Gray has since been working to get past the injury and ramp up to game readiness. As The Athletic's Katie Woo notes, Gray will be limited to 65 pitches in his first start. There had been some talk of having Gray make a minor-league start in order to get stretched out again, but instead the club will permit him to do so at the highest level. 


Even before Gray's injury, the Cardinals had been contemplating going with a six-man rotation for the early days of the season to account for the fact that they played eight games in eight days at the outset. Now, though, Gray's forthcoming activation likely means that lefty Zack Thompson will be moved to the bullpen or optioned to Memphis to be a part of the Triple-A rotation. 

Gray, 34, is coming off a 2023 season for the Twins in which he pitched to a 2.79 ERA and an MLB-leading FIP of 2.83 with 183 strikeouts in 184 innings. For his efforts, he finished second to Gerrit Cole in the American League Cy Young balloting. For his career, he owns an ERA+ of 121 across parts of 11 big-league seasons. 

This past winter, the Cardinals signed Gray to a three-year, $75 million free-agent contract that also includes a club option for 2027. The addition of Gray was the most notable part of a significant rotation overhaul that also included the signings of veterans Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. Going into Sunday's season finale against the winless Marlins, the Gray-less Cardinals rotation ranked 20th in MLB with a starters' ERA of 4.44. However, that figure is significantly worsened by the 6.97 ERA in two starts by Thompson, whom Gray will be supplanting.

The Cardinals enter Sunday's slate with a 5-4 mark for the season.