Will Sonny Gray Make the Leap to Superstardom in 2015?

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Sonny Gray enjoyed himself a successful season in 2014. In his first full major league campaign, the right hander went 14-10 with a 3.08 ERA and 183 strikeouts.

Gray threw his first two career shutouts, the second of which clinched a playoff berth for the A’s. He even looked like he was going to be an All-Star until a rough June saw his ERA rise from 1.99 to 3.20.

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In somewhat of an up-and-down season, the Smyrna, Tenn. native established himself as the team’s long-term ace. During the month of June, it looked like Gray wouldn’t be able to handle a full MLB season quite yet and was already starting to tire, much like what ended up being the case with teammates Jesse Chavez and Scott Kazmir. However, he bounced back with an unbelievable July (5-0, 1.03 ERA, 31 Ks) in which he won the AL Pitcher of the Month award.

Gray’s first full season was a success for the most part, but I definitely would like to see him take the next step and really develop into a star in this league. I’m not saying I expect him to win the Cy Young, but I think earning his first All-Star nod is a very realistic goal, and that he can become a true, bonafide ace.

To do this, however, I think Sonny needs to develop another out pitch. I am by no means saying he should scrap his curveball. His curveball is electric, but he has become predictable. Hitters have been guessing, correctly, when he’ll throw his curveball. That is one of the reasons he struggled in June, as opponents batted .385/.429/.423 against Gray’s curveballs.

Sonny credits former major leaguer Bill Gullickson with teaching him how to throw his curveball so effectively. If Gray could get Jarrod Parker to teach him how he throws his devastating changeup, or further develop and trust his slider as a legitimate out pitch, Gray can become elite. When a pitcher becomes unpredictable and has a couple nasty off-speed pitches, he gains a huge advantage.

Gray is still young as he turns 25 on Friday, but he has a rare opportunity to dominate the league from an early age.

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