Many New Yorkers and beat writers alike will tell you that Sonny Gray needs to pitch to back up catcher Austin Romine. They go so far as to say not only does he need to be behind the plate for Gray, but he needs to be his personal catcher every start he makes. This is completely bogus and an excuse for those looking to explain Gray’s struggles as a Yankee so far. The truth is like many others that have come before him, he has the stuff but he’s unable to handle New York’s bright lights.
Sonny Gray was one of the better pitchers in the AL in 2014 and 2015 before suffering some injuries in 2016 that pretty much gave him an up and down season. During those years, Sonny Gray did not have a personal catcher while he was one of the better pitchers in baseball during that time. At that time, Sonny Gray wasn’t a member of the New York Yankees, so why all of a sudden does he need Austin Romine behind the plate? I’ll tell you why, because he’s a mental case, he like many others that have come before him can not pitch in the bright lights of New York. Why is it that Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have no problem pitching to Gary Sanchez? Why is it that last year the Yankees rotation had a better ERA with Sanchez behind the plate than with Romine? Why is that none of them have asked for a personal catcher? Why is it that his homeruns and his walks have skyrocketed while being a Yankee? Why does Sonny Gray have an ERA approaching 5 with the Yankees when he was one of the better pitchers for 2 straight years before coming here?
Many fans and media will tell you that Gray needs to stay down in the zone to be effective and thats why he needs Romine behind the plate. However with a 95 mph fastball and a wicked slider to go along with a curve ball why does Gray struggle so much no matter who is catching him in New York? Why are the homeruns and walks way up in New York opposed to when he pitched in Oakland? Why are the ground balls not coming? I’ll tell you why its because Sonny Gray doesn’t trust his stuff. He is constantly nibbling and getting in hitters counts where he has to come over the plate and results usually aren’t good. If this sounds familiar to you its the same exact issues that plagued Phil Hughes In New York. The issue with Sonny Gray is not Gary Sanchez or a personal catcher. The issue with Sonny Gray in New York is he’s become afraid to trust his stuff and when things go wrong he just gets down on himself and it further snowballs; again much like many others that have come here before him that have been unable to sustain success.