There's always hope for Cardinals fans on Sonny Gray Day

Although it's only been two starts, Sonny Gray has lifted this rotation - and hopes for a better season.
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics
St. Louis Cardinals v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals' offense has, at times, been offensive.  The pitching staff has had its ups and downs. Too often, there were moments when this year started to feel like last year.

But no matter how things go this season, there appears to be reason to hope at least every five days – Sonny Gray Day is officially here.

It’s early and it’s only been two starts but the Cardinals' new ace, the prized $75 million man, has lived up to the hype and breathed life into the team. This is what the Cardinals were missing last year.  A stopper, a pitcher who can put the team on his shoulders and ensure that no slide lasts too long.

The numbers, of course, are exciting.  Two wins in two starts, no runs allowed, and 11 strikeouts in 11 innings.  In his first start, he was given a pitch limit of 65 pitches and took 64 of them to get through five impressive innings. In his next start, on a 75ish pitch limit, he got through six seamlessly.  As Derrick Goold reported, Gray has been working with six pitches and during his last start, he was able to get a called strike on five of them and a swing-and-miss on a separate five.

But this is about more than the numbers. This is also about the presence Gray brings, the Chris Carpenter-esque fire that’s been missing from a Cardinals mound for too long.  It’s about his dogged determination to make his first start against the Phillies, one that originally was supposed to be a minor league tune-up.  And it’s about knowing he had only three pitches to get two outs in that first start, and telling Oli Marmol he’d induce a double play – and then delivering.

His second start came at a perfect time.  After dropping two straight, the Cardinals were sitting at 7-9 heading into a series against the surprising Oakland Athletics.  It’s early, of course. Insanely early.  But there were too many moments where one had to admit that things still felt like last year, albeit in different ways.

Last year, of course, the rotation dragged the team down with it, while the offense looked promising.  This year, it’s been the offense that has been a drag on the team. It’s felt like decades since the Cardinals scored more than three runs, a run that continued against the Athletics. 

But three runs have felt like plenty through Gray’s first two starts. And when the Cardinals needed some momentum, he delivered on the mound.  He was signed to be the ace, he wants to be the ace, and through two starts, he’s been exactly what the doctor ordered.

Will the offense finally break out of its doldrums? Can the rest of the rotation remain effective throughout the summer? Will this team ever figure out how to win the final game of a series?

I don’t know. But I do know that this season likely won’t go as sideways as last year – because we can at least pin our hopes on Sonny Gray Day.