Sonny Gray's resurgence with Reds continues thanks to a more effective slider
Gray has now recorded five times as many strikeouts as walks this season
The Cincinnati Reds won on Tuesday, giving them their fourth victory in their past five tries and pulling their record to 9-13 on the season. Cincinnati topped the Atlanta Braves 7-6 behind a number of new additions: Yasiel Puig homered and drove in three; Jose Iglesias rapped two hits; and Sonny Gray continued to make the deal that netted him over the winter look prudent.
Gray threw 5 ⅓ innings versus Atlanta, allowing six hits and four hits (three earned) without issuing a walk. He struck out nine batters, giving him roughly five times as many Ks as walks on the year. His seasonal ERA is now 3.28, or a full run and a half better than it was last season.
Entering the season, it was a common prediction that Gray would pitch better after being reunited with college pitching coach Derek Johnson. Gray and Johnson have made plenty of noticeable tweaks to the right-hander's game. For example, he's using his four-seamer more and his sinker less, making the former his primary heater. There's also the matter of Gray's slider. You might recall that back in spring Gray criticized his old team, the New York Yankees, for having him throw too many of what he considered a bad pitch.
Gray has since taken a liking to his slider, deploying it as his main two-strike pitch. It's working, seeing as how he has a would-be career-best 45 percent whiff rate on it, per Statcast. To be fair to Gray, this doesn't appear to be the same slider he had with the Yankees. Rather, this pitch features more two-plane movement, enabling him added depth.
On Tuesday, Gray generated 13 whiffs on his 88 pitches. Eight came on the slider.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Here is everything you need to know about the day in baseball
SportsLine's advanced computer model simulated Sunday's Cardinals vs. Braves matchup 10,000...
Here's what you need to know from the last seven days of MLB action
Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams are both out with injury
SportsLine's advanced computer model simulated Sunday's Padres vs. Blue Jays matchup 10,000...
SportsLine's Mike McClure, a DFS pro with nearly $2M in winnings, gives optimal lineup adv...