New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray is in the midst of his worst season as a professional.
Through 17 starts, he's on pace for career worsts with a 5.85 ERA, 11 home runs allowed and a 1.571 WHIP, which has highlighted the Yankees glaring problem in the depths of their starting rotation.
At most, they are getting two consistent starts out of five. Luis Severino is a bona fide American League Cy Young Award candidate as he is 14-2 with a 2.12 ERA. Behind him, CC Sabathia has used veteran savvy to become the team's No. 2 starter as he possesses a 3.02 ERA in 15 starts this season. At 37 years old, having the 10th-best ERA in the AL is quite an impressive feat.
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But the Yankees have become one of the best teams in the American League thanks to an offense that ranks within the top three of Major League Baseball and simply outscores its opponents. Looking at the bottom of New York's rotation, there is much to be desired.
With Jordan Montgomery out for the season and the inconsistent Masahiro Tanaka preparing to return after hamstring injuries suffered while running the bases against the crosstown-rival Mets, Gray was expected to at least keep things afloat before the Yankees could make a deal for a true No. 2 or 3 starter ahead of the trade deadline.
Instead, Gray has been a disaster in a group of mystery arms that includes Domingo German (5.37 ERA), the injured Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 3.00 ERA) and Luis Cessa, who has been given multiple chances to secure a big-league spot but has struggled.
There is a way, however, that the Yankees could get the most out of a struggling Gray to optimize the rotation until help arrives via the trade market.
Start him exclusively on the road, even if it's for one or two turns through the rotation.
It's only natural that Yankees fans will immediately point to Friday's start against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Gray was slammed for five runs on six hits in just two innings of work. It was his second-straight start he failed to hit the three-inning mark after he was hammered for six runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
The Friday disaster against the Blue Jays though was a rare road implosion for Gray, who has been at least serviceable away from the Bronx, which has been a house of horrors for him.
Looking at the splits, he is a significantly better pitcher on the road this year.
At Yankee Stadium, Gray is 2-3 with an 8.25 ERA (33 runs in 36 innings), allowing 8 home runs with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.09.
Away from home, the 28-year-old is 3-4 with a 4.07 ERA (22 runs in 48.2 innings), allowing just three home runs with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.47.
With Tanaka returning, the Yankees could temporarily move to a six-man rotation with German and Cessa manning the last two slots if the prognosis on Loaisiga's shoulder is not good. Skip over Gray if his start is scheduled for the Bronx and put him in the most favorable position possible until general manager Brian Cashman inevitably brings in new arms at the end of the month.