Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need.
It looked like that was the case for Josiah Gray as he made his debut with the Washington Nationals on Monday night.
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) August 3, 2021
He threw 71 pitches with 47 of those called strikes (66%). His fastball topped out at 95.4 miles per hour and averaged 94.3 for the night. Gray used four pitches; effectively mixing in his curve, slider, and changeup.
“I’ll get a good shot, a good role this year, and prove myself in the big leagues just like everyone here,” said Gray, who threw five innings, yielding four hits, striking out two and walking two. “Everyone’s going to play hard every day. We got a really good ballclub. I’m really excited for now, and I’m really excited for the future.”
The image doesn’t do the 23-year old justice in showing just how good of a first impression he made in the Nationals’ 5-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The former Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the Los Angeles Dodgers had only been in the big leagues for nine days when he was traded to the nation’s capitol as part of the trade for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.
In his first career start, he struck out six Colorado Rockies in four innings, and only allowed three hits. He did walk four, but he left onlookers salivating. Dodgers Nation thought he was the next best thing on the mound.
It’s not hard to see why.
I already can’t wait for Josiah Gray’s next start. Great outing today. He’ll continue to adapt and learn pic.twitter.com/VkxJ0fA80K
— Dodgers fam (@Dodgerfam25) July 25, 2021
Gray is so highly thought of that he yielded two All-Star level players that will change the present for the Dodgers and, if things continue as expected, he will change the future of the Nationals.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 2, 2021
Washington is squarely in a rebuild and Gray should be a foundational piece. It was an incredible starting pitching staff that helped the Nats win the 2019 Word Series. Now, Scherzer is in Los Angeles and series MVP Stephen Strasburg is in recovery once again after surgery.
The Nationals need a top of the rotation starter now. And in a city known for politics, the “Gray for Ace” campaign has begun.
Gray showed the ability to bounce back after a bad pitch. Following a seven-pitch battle that ended with an Odubel Herrara home run, he came back with a strike out and a pair of ground outs to close the fifth inning, before making his exit for the night.
His manager was more than satisfied with what he saw out of Gray. “He’s going to be good,” said Davey Martinez. “He knows he needs to work, but I loved everything that I saw about him.”
And it’s only day one.
Joining a rotation that includes Joe Ross, the Nationals become the third team in the bigs with two Black starters, joining the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners.
Ross is third on the Nationals in starts (18), innings pitched (96.2), and victories (5) this season. His 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings is second among Washington starters.
The duo could become pillars that rival those holding up many of the monuments that surround the District of Columbia.
If they do, please remember this…whatever nickname you come up with for them, don’t call Josiah Gray “Jojo.”
Josiah Gray says that people he knows, teammates, etc. can call him Jojo, but strangers and fans, people he doesn't know, should stick with Josiah.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) August 3, 2021
You don’t know him like that. Not yet anyway.