Gray scantly threw his changeup, but when he did he hit the zone a career-high 50.6%. The pitch got a 63.6% GB%, but allowed a 40% HR/FB%.
Bolstered by a 97th-percentile spin rate, Gray’s curveball stifled opponents to a .163 BABIP and .169 wOBA. The curve’s ground-ball rate jumped 13.6% from 2018 for a career-best 60.4%, while also flashing a 33% strikeout rate. Gray’s best offspeed offering led his arsenal with a 16.2 pVAL in his bounceback season.
Gray threw a four-seamer and a sinker, both coming in around 93. The sinker got a surprising 29.7% K%, while getting just a 9.7% SwStr% and 23.7% O-Swing%. That K% stands out as a major outlier considering in 2017, when he had a 12% SwStr% he had just a 14.9% K%. The four seamer got hit around, allowing a .336 BAA and .425 wOBA.
Gray only threw his cutter 2% of the time, but he managed to get an 87.5% GB% on the pitch.
A rocky campaign in the Bronx tanked the pVAL of Gray’s slider in 2018, but the breaking ball found new life in Cincinnati. Gray turned to the slide piece more often than in any previous season of his career, and his trust in the pitch was warranted, piling up a sharp 39.8% strikeout rate, a bounceback 53.6% ground-ball rate (up 16.3% from 2018), and limiting opponents to a .175 wOBA.
This was Gray’s most used offering at 30.5%. Similar to his true four-seamer, the batted-ball results on the sinker were worse overall in 2018, including a .339 wOBA and .277 batting average as opposed to .296 wOBA and .223 batting average in 2017. The whiff rate was also notably down from 20.7% in 2017 to 14.9% in 2018. As with most sinkers, it was good at coaxing ground balls—evidenced by an average launch angle of 3 degrees.
Gray used his four-seamer 26.9% of the time, and its average velocity was similar to 2017 at 93.3 mph. The whiff rate was also virtually unchanged at 20.8%. However, the batted-ball results were totally different in 2018, as it allowed an unsightly .426 wOBA and .339 batting average. Compare that to a .341 wOBA and .256 batting average in 2017. Overall, it was a very bad pitch with a -5.2 pVal in 2018.
Gray nearly doubled his usage of the curve in 2018 at 24.8%. The results were good, as it allowed just a .275 wOBA and .232 batting average along with a 34.4% whiff rate. He also showed good command with a 36.5% zone rate. Its chase rate was way up in 2018 at 38.2% from 28.5% in 2017. All told, it was an above-average pitch with a 2.6 pVal.
The slider was similarly used from 2017 to 2018 at 15.1%. The whiff rate was down a little from 42.6% in 2017 to 39% in 2018. The swinging-K rate dropped from 22.1% in 2017 to 18.2% in 2018. The slider also had less of a chase rate in 2018 at 38.5% as opposed to 45.4% in 2017. It was a much, much less effective pitch overall in 2018 with a -0.7 pVal compared to 6.8 in 2017.
Gray’s changeup usage was way down in 2018 at just 2.4% (9.4% in 2017). He threw it primarily to lefties (45/53). And the results were horrific, as it allowed a terrible .604 wOBA and .392 batting average. Its whiff rate was also way down to a miserable 11.8%, compared to 34.8% in 2017. Overall, the changeup logged a bad -4.9 pVal in 2018.