The St. Louis Cardinals have been searching for an ace since 2019. Jack Flaherty appeared to be just what the doctor ordered, but he failed to reach the heights he attained in the second half of 2019. When John Mozeliak signed Gray, last year's runner-up in the American League Cy Young race, to a three-year, $75 million deal, the team found its ace for the near future.
Sonny Gray was one of the five best pitchers last year according to bWAR (5.3), ERA (2.79), adjusted ERA+ (154), home runs per nine innings (0.391), and FIP (2.83). He led the league in FIP and home runs allowed, incidentally. Those are some of the most important statistics for a starting pitcher, and he was tops in the league for each of them. Sonny Gray truly is a top-tier pitcher in all of baseball when looking at last year's statistics, contrary to many fans' beliefs.
While his career numbers aren't quite as sterling as his 2023 figures, they are still admirable. In the last three full seasons, Sonny Gray ranks 23rd in ERA, 19th in FIP, 8th in home runs allowed per nine innings, and 18th in fWAR. Those are numbers that justify him being most teams' #1 pitcher on their staff.
For the Cardinals to be successful next year, they need Sonny Gray to perform as well as he has these past three seasons. The team hasn't had an ace in a long time, and Sonny Gray should be able to live up to the hype.