Game #106 is the Nats debut of Josiah “JoJo” Gray!!!

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

This could be the start of a new era for the Washington Nationals as they are giving the start tonight to one of those top prospects the team just traded for. Josiah Gray was acquired via the Max Scherzer and Trea Turner deal with the Dodgers that also yielded Keibert Ruiz and two lesser prospects. Gray was activated yesterday and was part of the walk-off celebration courtesy of Yadiel Hernandez. Tonight, he is the starting pitcher. The pressure on Gray needs to be on ‘low’ as the Nats were at this point in 2016 when Lucas Giolito made his debut with the Nats, and it was not handled well. 

“I’ve talked to him since he got here about hey, ‘You’re the future of our organization,’” manager Dave Martinez said.  “We’re very exciting to have [him]. He’s a good kid. I told him I’m going to quiz him on who his teammates are.”

The good news is that Gray made his debut with the Dodgers earlier this season and this would just be his Nats debut. He also likes to be called JoJo or Jojo per his tweet to us and not Jo Jo.

“I was a kid playing in the backyard, and my dad would always call down from his room window and he would always say ‘JuJu’, like JuJu Smith-Schuster,” Gray said to  DodgersNation. “I would always giggle and run away. Just growing up, it evolved from Juju to Jojo and little do you know, here I am, years later, still going by Jojo. It’s something that happened in the backyard and it’s stuck with me to this day.”

The 23-year-old righty was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round of the 2018 MLB draft from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, and he grew up in New Rochelle, NY near New York City. If you go by Baseball America, Gray was their No. 59 prospect in baseball. Because Gray was a former shortstop, you can see that he is strong and athletic was a fresh  arm. Everything works off of Gray’s power fastball that will vary from 93-97 mph and has that late movement on it, and he has a nice slider that moves to his glove-sid with a nice sweeping movement. What the scouts love is that he controls the fastball and keeps his velo throughout his starts.  Gray’s changeup and curveball are both work-in-progress pitches.

What is interesting is that the Nats pre-determined that catcher Tres Barrera would be the battery-mate with Gray, and Barrera sat yesterday to spend time with Gray in the dugout talking about pitching philosophy and charting pitches.

The Phillies will be starting today’s game with lefty Ranger Suarez who will be their opener in a bullpen game. The Phillies are down two starts after injuries to both Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch:  7:05  pm EDT
TV: MASN2, NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)

Line-ups subject to change without notice:

1. Victor Robles CF
2. Adrian Sanchez 2B
3. Juan Soto RF
4. Josh Bell 1B
5. Yadiel Hernandez LF
6. Carter Kieboom 3B
7. Luis Garcia SS
8. Tres Barrera C
9. JoJo Gray RHP

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