Author Topic: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?  (Read 175 times)

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Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Topic Start: February 11, 2024, 12:26:55 PM »
Patrick Reddington at Federal Baseball recapped a recent appearance of Josiah Gray on MLB Network Radio where Gray mentioned that he has been working on his changeup this offseason. He expects to show it to Hickey in spring training, and hopes to throw it 8-10% of the time. The article has Gray's description of the grip (split) and how he hopes it will move  by "gyro[ing] out a bit" (I'm lousy with this, but that's more or less a straight drop).
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“It starts — I pronate really well,” Gray said, “... but I don’t have that ability to turn it over like Devin Williams, or at least I don’t think I’ve tapped into that ability yet, so as of right now I’m trying to just spread out the fingers a little bit more, so kind of just like split-change, splitter, whatever it may be, and just throw the ball like a fastball, and letting air or gravity take over and have some drop to it. So I’m not saying it’s going to be Kevin Gausman’s, but if I could throw his splitter that would be a big win.”

The change is a pitch that Fangraphs was graded as an MLB future value of 50 back before 2021 (40 current value at the time) but which he pretty much abandoned in 2023. Gray throws a lot of pitches, including a cutter he added last year. Last year, he threw 5 pitches at least 10% of the time, per FG's Pitch Info (which they say is based on Brooks Baseball's pitch classification) -  Slider 36.9%, 4 seam - 18.3%, sinker - 15.7%, curve - 15.4%, and cutter - 11.9%). He had a drop in strikeout rate in 2023, but looking at the contact info, it looks like he may have traded some swing and miss at balls out of the strike zone for contact.

Taking a look at Gray's 2024 projections, they tend to have him lose some of his "luck" that allowed his 2023 ERA to be under 4 and a run better than his FIP. He had an 80% strand rate for runners  on, and a low HR//FB rate (11.5%), so he tended to "pay" less for his his high walk rate (11.5%) and WHIP (1.46). The projections expect a bit better walk rate and a bit better K%-BB%, as well as a bit better BABIP, but more homers (High 20s/low 30s vs 22 last year) and lower strand rate (70% - more normal).

Offline Slateman

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #1: February 11, 2024, 12:46:16 PM »
Yay, he's playing with another pitch.

Meanwhile, he is giving up a 1.000+ OPS on his four seamer and an .800+ OPS on his sinker.

Online JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #2: February 11, 2024, 01:21:17 PM »
Cutter and curve are his best. I think he needs the 4 seam as a show me to make the other stuff effective, but yes, got to move away from it.

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #3: February 11, 2024, 02:01:35 PM »

It says a lot about the organization when a 3/4 starter is the face of your franchise...

Offline Slateman

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #4: February 11, 2024, 03:02:35 PM »
Cutter and curve are his best. I think he needs the 4 seam as a show me to make the other stuff effective, but yes, got to move away from it.

.787 OPS against the cutter.

You cant just not have a fastball as a starting pitcher. Rizzo needs to admit he failed and go get someone who can actually fix the pitching.

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #5: February 11, 2024, 03:17:40 PM »
It says a lot about the organization when a 3/4 starter is the face of your franchise...
Abrams is the face of the franchise, not Gray.

Offline Natsinpwc

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #6: February 11, 2024, 03:35:08 PM »
It says a lot about the organization when a 3/4 starter is the face of your franchise...
How about a catcher who cannot catch but we have signed to a long term deal.

Offline Slateman

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #7: February 11, 2024, 03:45:00 PM »
It says a lot about the organization when a 3/4 starter is the face of your franchise...
Well, soon Dylan Crews will be here

How about a catcher who cannot catch but we have signed to a long term deal.

But he can hit, right?

Offline Natsinpwc

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #8: February 11, 2024, 03:49:19 PM »

Offline blue911

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #9: February 11, 2024, 04:48:01 PM »

But he can hit, right?

Switch hitters with power are a rare breed. He is better than Yasel Antuna for instance but think he ends up in the “for a catcher”  category.

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #10: February 11, 2024, 05:37:09 PM »
Well, soon Dylan Crews will be here

A lot of fans are gonna be seriously disappointed when he turns out to be little more than another Lane Thomas...


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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #11: February 11, 2024, 05:45:47 PM »
Abrams is the face of the franchise, not Gray.

A 90 WRC+ player as the face of your franchise would be even more embarrassing.  You may wanna quit while you're ahead...

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #12: February 11, 2024, 05:59:16 PM »
The Fed Baseball article mentions that he is working with Scherzer and some other guys more into data on his pitches. He also talks up Doo and his new role. Sounds like he is receptive to analytics so maybe the org changes will help him

Offline Natsinpwc

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #13: February 11, 2024, 06:38:34 PM »
The Fed Baseball article mentions that he is working with Scherzer and some other guys more into data on his pitches. He also talks up Doo and his new role. Sounds like he is receptive to analytics so maybe the org changes will help him


Offline GataNats

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #14: February 11, 2024, 11:54:07 PM »
Lane is the face for as long as he is here.  If he makes another jump like he did in 23, we are in business

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #15: February 12, 2024, 12:10:57 AM »
A 90 WRC+ player as the face of your franchise would be even more embarrassing.  You may wanna quit while you're ahead...
he’s 22 coming off his first full season. He’s projected at 95 next season fwiw.

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #16: February 12, 2024, 08:34:31 AM »
The Fed Baseball article mentions that he is working with Scherzer and some other guys more into data on his pitches. He also talks up Doo and his new role. Sounds like he is receptive to analytics so maybe the org changes will help him
Cressey Sports Performance. Verlander also works there.

An interesting comment about how data-focused Gray is:

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“And to talk about data even more, now we have Sean Doolittle on the staff who is going to help bridge that gap to where there will be no miscommunication, it will be like, ‘Okay, this is what we think you can lean into,’ ‘This is what we think you should back off of,’ and it will make you better in the long-run because there is data behind everything which gives you the cold hard truth of whether a pitch or whether a sequence is successful or not.”


Offline Mattionals

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #17: February 12, 2024, 09:04:15 AM »
Cressey Sports Performance. Verlander also works there.

An interesting comment about how data-focused Gray is:
To me that just screams that Hickey is useless.

Offline Slateman

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #18: February 12, 2024, 09:27:16 AM »
To me that just screams that Hickey is useless.

Its the entire organization's pitching development.

You cant look at the data for Josiah Gray and go, "I need another pitch." Somewhere there is a disconnect if that is what Josiah is taking away.

He needs to get some combination of more velo, more IVB, and/or more extension. Right now, he's basically relying on his breaking balls to make up for it. That is not a long term solution, as a starter. Maybe working with an outside group helps with this.

We'll see

Offline Natsinpwc

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #19: February 12, 2024, 09:35:32 AM »
Its the entire organization's pitching development.

You cant look at the data for Josiah Gray and go, "I need another pitch." Somewhere there is a disconnect if that is what Josiah is taking away.

He needs to get some combination of more velo, more IVB, and/or more extension. Right now, he's basically relying on his breaking balls to make up for it. That is not a long term solution, as a starter. Maybe working with an outside group helps with this.

We'll see

I don’t know.  His four seamer will never be great.  Working on another pitch seems logical.  Or not a new pitch but one he had and stopped using. 

But yea Hickey is useless.

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Re: Josiah Gray 2024 - Continuous Improvement?
« Reply #20: February 12, 2024, 09:42:34 AM »
It sounds like Hickey doesn't say, "forget about that stuff," when Gray and others come in with a data-driven change to a pitch. It's more that he'll never initiate it and probably doesn't use data to refine it. This is now Doo's role. I'm not sure where Hickey adds value other than perhaps things like sequencing, game prep, and perhaps work habits.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2024/02/24/nats-josiah-gray-pitching-adjustments/

Golden discusses what looks like management's view that Gray's willingness and effort to modify his approach to pitching might be hurting him.

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“You have to look at it in the big picture,” Nationals pitching strategist Sean Doolittle said. “[Just because] you feel a little off on a given day doesn’t necessarily mean you go into the video room and look to start tinkering with things. It’s hard to do as a player because you’re constantly trying to get better, constantly trying to make adjustments to stay ahead of the league.”

Mentions he's trying to generate more horizontal movement on his sinker and working in a change up at hickey's suggestion. He's going to throw it in the spring vs Nats hitters to see how they react.

Quote
Nationals Manager Dave Martinez wants Gray, who can deploy seven pitches, to develop three or four he can throw really well. One could argue that in order for Gray’s secondary pitches to be more effective, he needs to establish his four-seam fastball early in games. Gray threw his fastball 38.9 percent of the time in 2022, though it was often ineffective. Last season, that percentage dropped to 17 percent.

“I’m hoping that he understands coming in this spring who he is and what makes him really good,” Martinez said. “And I’m hoping that, by talking to him, that a lot of the tinkering is going to go away this year.”

Tinkering, as Gary puts it, has been something he's always done to keep hitters off balance and to get an edge. Going back to more 4 seam use may be cringe-worthy. I wonder if he could get by with just an improved sinker for his main fastball.