The Athletics will start their ace Wednesday night against the division-rival Angels as Sonny Gray has been activated from the disabled list. Gray hasn’t pitched since August 6th, and even before then the star righty was dealing with injuries and struggling.
The start against the Angels though should be an abbreviated one. Susan Slusser paraphrased the wishes of A’s manager Bob Melvin:
“Gray will be on a pitch count of about 30, but even if he is in the low 20s after the first, manager Bob Melvin said he isn’t sure he would send out Gray for a second inning of work.”
Prior to Gray’s activation from the disabled list, Ross Detwiler was the expected starter. Instead though, Detwiler will piggyback Gray’s beginning to the game, and take over wherever Gray leaves off. As a left-hander, this could provide an interesting storyline to the lineup construction from Mike Scioscia and the opposing Angels. With both teams mathematically-eliminated from postseason contention, the implications carry little weight, but it’s still an interesting storyline to follow.
With the Athletics completely out of it, this news comes as a ray of hope for next year for a couple reasons. First, the team had no motive to rush Gray back from his injury, which more than likely means he is completely symptom-free. All players returning from injury should ideally show no symptoms anymore, however, the desire to rush a player back during a postseason push is certainly a factor.
Second, it gives Gray and the team an opportunity to set a new benchmark heading into next season. Gray had his worst season this year, taking major steps back in both walk rate and home run rate. While his strikeout rate remained roughly the same, even that dipped by two percentage points thanks, in part, to a two percentage point dip in his whiff rate.
With just five games remaining in the season, the Athletics could do without Gray. However, it’s a good time for Gray to re-establish himself with very little on the line and against a team that is also out of the postseason picture.