Josiah Gray makes Nationals debut against Phillies

MLB Baseball

Top pitching prospect Josiah Gray will make his Washington debut when the Nationals open a four-game series against the visiting Phillies on Monday night.

Gray, 23, was obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday as part of the package for ace Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner. He immediately became Washington’s top pitching prospect and No. 2 prospect overall, according to

“Everything I’ve heard about him, he’s a great, great kid,” manager Dave Martinez said before Sunday’s game. “Wants to put the work in. And he’s very competitive. I’m looking forward to building a relationship with him, and moving forward watching him compete.”

Gray (0-0, 6.75 ERA) made his major league debut for the Dodgers on July 20, allowing four runs in a four-inning relief stint. He struck out seven.

The right-hander made his first start against the Rockies on July 25, giving up two runs on three hits and four walks in four innings while fanning six. He has given up four homers in eight innings.

“I’m going to continue to eliminate the long ball, that’s something I have to work on,” Gray said. “Continue to command my pitches … [continue] to learn the movement and finalize and perfect that movement. I think I’ve showed flashes of having the good stuff out there.”

The Phillies will counter with left-hander Ranger Suarez (5-3, 1.12), who moves into the starting rotation after recently serving as the team’s closer. Newly acquired Ian Kennedy has moved into that role and Suarez will make his first start in the majors since Sept. 30, 2018 as the Phillies look to improve the back end of their rotation.

“It was something that I wanted at some point,” Suarez said. “I think I’m going to be able to do this.”

The Phillies, who find themselves within 3 1/2 games of the first-place New York Mets in the National League East, are looking for about three innings and 50 pitches from Suarez in this outing, hoping to build him up from there.

“We’ve always kind of envisioned Ranger as a starter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We just recognized that our rotation needed some help.”

Philadelphia dropped the first two games of a weekend series in Pittsburgh but exploded for a 15-4 win on Sunday. The Phillies pounded out 20 hits, including five by J.T. Realmuto, who drove in four runs. Bryce Harper added three doubles and Harper and Realmuto each scored three runs.

“We had a conversation before the game about, as an offense, maybe we were just pressing too much,” Realmuto said. “So, we just talked today about having fun. It sounds silly, but it’s having fun and not putting too much pressure on yourself.”

The Nationals had a lot of pressure on Sunday.

Chicago’s Rafael Ortega clubbed three home runs and the third one tied the score 5-5 in the eighth. But Yadiel Hernandez, who went 4-for-5 with two homers, hit the second one when he led off the bottom of the ninth and lifted the Nationals to a 6-5 win.

“There’s moments where all you can do is you go out there looking for a particular pitch and take advantage of that pitch if you get it,” said Hernandez, who fouled off four pitches during the at-bat before connecting with a sinker from Cubs reliever Manuel Rodriguez.

The Nationals took two of three from the Cubs in a matchup of two of the trade deadline’s biggest sellers.

–Field Level Media

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