TORONTO — The loud voices and headlines screaming for Sonny Gray to be deleted from the Yankees’ rotation are understandable, based on the struggling pitcher’s previous two dismal performances.
Yet, before Aaron Boone drops Gray from the rotation, he needs somebody to plug into the mix every fifth day, and the Yankees manager’s choices are limited at the moment.
Jonathan Loaisiga is a wonderful story about overcoming long odds to reach the big leagues, after almost three years of inactivity due to shoulder and elbow injuries. However, the right-hander underwent an MRI exam on the right shoulder on Friday and is scheduled to see Dr. Chris Ahmad on Monday. Considering he missed 2014 and 2015 with shoulder problems, that isn’t a good sign.
Luis Cessa has been given multiple chances to prove he is a big league starter since coming from the Tigers in December 2015 and hasn’t shown enough to be counted on. He is likely to start the second game of Monday’s doubleheader in Baltimore.
Justus Sheffield was recently named to the Futures Game roster, but the Yankees believe the lefty requires more work at Triple-A before being recognized as somebody who could help at the major league level at this time. Later in the year is a possibility if he continues to develop.
So, though Gray’s struggles have been immense, the options to replace him are shallow. That could change shortly if the Yankees can make a deal for Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ, who started against them Saturday at Rogers Centre in what was an accidental showcase for a team desperately seeking a starter so as not to fall too far behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, who started the day with a two-game lead.
Though Boone supported Gray following a two-inning beating delivered by the light-hitting Blue Jays in Friday night’s 6-2 loss at Rogers Centre, the leash isn’t endless.
“All I can say is that it’s in there to be effective,’’ Boone said of Gray’s stuff. “But we have to start to see that.’’
Boone said Gray will start Wednesday against the Orioles. Under normal circumstances that would be a boost because the O’s are the worst team in baseball. However, the Blue Jays were tied for next to last in team batting average (.236) entering Friday night’s action and ripped into him for five runs and six hits in two innings. The Orioles’ team batting average of .227 was the worst in the AL entering Saturday’s action.
“Right now we feel he is our best option,’’ Boone said of Gray, who is 5-7 with a 5.85 ERA in 17 starts and has won once in his past six outings. “That’s certainly part of it.’’
Larry Rothschild said he will make adjustments with Gray that he didn’t want to go public with on Saturday.
“I don’t have a problem with his effort and work,’’ the pitching coach said of Gray. “There were a few things we talked about today. The inconsistency has cost him. He makes a good pitch and then a mistake and the mistakes get hit. There are a few things mechanically we will work on.’’
Rothschild said the movement and spin on Gray’s breaking ball have been good, but he hasn’t been able to finish pitches.
“We need to get him downward in the zone,’’ Rothschild said.
Whatever Rothschild does with Gray won’t be completely new, according to Boone.
“Small adjustments mechanically that quite frankly they have been tinkering with throughout the year. There are a couple of things that can create better shape with his pitches,’’ Boone said. “Larry, as I do I, even if the results haven’t been there, believe that he is a lot closer and if we can get him there he has a chance to really impact our club.’’
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