Sonny Gray's first start features something that hasn't been done in 15 years

Sonny Gray was able to do something with his first start in St. Louis that hasn't been done since 2009.
Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

It was a relief to see Sonny Gray on the mound at Busch Stadium Tuesday night donning the Cardinals jersey. His long-awaited debut finally happened, and he didn't disappoint. Gray was given a 65-70 pitch limit after recently being activated from the Injured List for a hamstring injury. He was able to come in just under that ceiling.

Gray needed only 64 pitches to go 5 innings. He allowed just 5 hits, didn't walk a batter, and he struck out 5 batters. The last time this happened in franchise history? John Smoltz on August 23rd, 2009. Gray was able to match Smoltz's start from that day.

Gray's pitch limit will likely increase incrementally with each start, and it's possible he is able to pitch without restrictions by the end of the month. With an already underwhelming starting rotation, Gray's health, presence, and dominance are essential to the 2024 season for the Birds on the Bat. While we can't expect him to pitch this well every game, this is a fantastic start to his tenure in St. Louis.

While Sonny Gray's start didn't put him in line for a quality start (minimum 6 innings), it did put him in line for a win, which he ended up getting. Some late-game offensive small ball and a stout bullpen performance held the lead for the Cardinals, and Gray got his first win as a Cardinal.

Given the fact that Sonny Gray hadn't pitched in a real baseball game in 36 days, there was some concern that he would either underperform or re-aggravate his hamstring. His last appearance was a simulated game in Springfield on April 3rd. Neither incident occurred, and fans instead were treated to a preview of what a true ace can look like.

The St. Louis faithful haven't seen a true ace since Jack Flaherty in 2019 and Adam Wainwright in 2021. Hopefully, Gray is able to continue this trend and rack up the quality starts this year. Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz have been strong thus far, and Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn have shown flashes of what they can be. With Gray at the helm, the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation may actually be decent this year.