Can Sonny Gray live up to expectations as the St. Louis Cardinals ace in 2024?

The Cardinals have finally found their ace in the hole. But what can we expect out of Sonny Gray in 2024?
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

John Mozeliak and the Cardinals were very aggressive early on this offseason, knowing they needed to add three starting pitchers. They did just that in free agency, with right-hander Sonny Gray being the cherry on top.

St. Louis signed him to a three-year, $75 million contract with a club option for 2027 after two years with the Twins. The Cardinals finally have their ace, something that was lacking in 2023 and something that came back to haunt them very quickly.

But the Cardinals enter the 2024 season with more of a security blanket than they did in 2023. And with Gray leading the rotation, what can Cardinals fans expect out of the veteran right-hander?

What to expect out of Gray?

Obviously, Gray is the exact type of pitcher the Cardinals need to lead their rotation. The 34-year-old finished second in the Cy Young race in the American League this year behind Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, posting an ERA of 2.79.

But to find out what to expect, we need to dive into some numbers. This year, Gray logged exactly 184 innings, so you know you're getting a workhorse who will give you innings and keep you in ballgames. That's one thing the Cardinals were lacking this year, and the additions of Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn help with that too.

Gray also is a strikeout machine. For years, the Cardinals' pitching staff has relied upon a pitch-to-contact approach, which really needed to change. Gray packs a punch, having fanned 183 batters during the regular season and averaged nine strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

In addition, the right-hander keeps the ball in the ballpark and doesn't walk many batters. He averaged just 2.7 walks per nine innings this season and 0.4 homers per nine.

Above all things, Gray is somebody you can trust in a postseason game. This is your surefire Game 1 starter in a playoff series. This is somebody who can match up with guys like Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Walker Buehler, Spencer Strider, and other top guys.

While yes, the Cardinals do need one more frontline starter, you can certainly trust Gray to get the job done. And he'll make everyone else around him better. He's a clubhouse leader who holds his teammates accountable.

Cardinals fans should be excited to see what Gray brings to the table. He's an excellent pitcher who is sure to make an impact