Not even a league-wide lockout could extinguish Rangers fans’ excitement last December. Christmas came early when the team spent $500 million on a new all-star double play combination. Fans were anxious to see what the team’s next move would be after Texas locked up Corey Seager for ten years and Marcus Semien for seven years.
They didn’t have to wait long. On December 1st, Jon Gray signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the Rangers. Although the financial investment was less than what they put forth to acquire Seager or Semien, the signing was celebrated because of the Rangers’ desperate need for help in the rotation. Texas had the third-worst ERA of any team in baseball during the 2021 season.
Gray was the Rangers’ opening day starter when they took the field in Toronto on April 8th. He only made it through four innings before leaving the game after developing a blister on his pitching hand. He was placed on the injured list the following day. He returned to the team ten days later, but immediately went back on the shelf when he developed a knee sprain during his start against the Mariners on April 20th.
Reviewing Jon Gray’s 2022, his first season with the Texas Rangers
Gray finally had a chance to pitch on a regular basis during the month of May. It was a tough month for him on the mound, as evidenced by his 5.04 ERA through five starts. Despite these struggles, he began to figure things out in June. His best run of the season came between June 1st to July 27, when he made 11 starts and limited opposing hitters to a. .204 batting average. Gray won seven games and posted an ERA of 2.65 during this stretch.
Gray’s hot streak came to an abrupt end when he left a start early on August 1st with discomfort in his right side. He spent the next 41 days on the injured list before rejoining the active roster on September 12th. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to replicate his earlier success through his final five starts. He allowed a 4.50 ERA through 24 innings and the Rangers lost each game he started. He only pitched into the sixth inning one time during this stretch.
Overall, Jon Gray’s first season in a Rangers uniform was solid. He was fourth on the team in ERA, third in strikeouts, and fourth in pitching WAR. He will enter Spring Training with a guaranteed spot in the Rangers rotation, both because of his contract and because of past performance.
It remains to be seen where Gray will slot into the 2023 rotation. He is a reliable contributor when he is healthy, but he probably won’t be a number one or two pitcher on a championship-level team. The hope – and expectation – is that the team will add significant talent to the top of the rotation, either through free agency or a trade, before the 2023 season begins.
Regardless of who is pitching around him, the Rangers will be thrilled if Jon Gray can pitch for an entire season like he did in June and July.