Pitcher of the Year - Josiah Gray
Now this is a quieter drum beat of mine, but also one I have been on since Gray arrived in DC. He has well documented growing pains, including leading the league in walks and home runs allowed last season. That being said, Gray has looked spectacular this spring and I am fully aboard the hype train.
Yes, it is Spring Training. Yes, several teams had key players participating in the World Baseball Classic and away from the club during the Spring. But the key for Gray this spring goes beyond the 0.55 ERA.
He did not allow a single home run all spring.
If Gray can keep the ball in the park, that will go a long way towards his development and progression. He was one of the few Nationals' starters to stay healthy last season, so now he has gotten the opprotunity to continue to refine his craft as opposed to rehabbing just to be able to pitch again in general. Gray is entering his second full season as a starting pitcher at the Major League level, which I think will really be the year we see him settle in.
In an interview on Half Street High Heat, we asked Josiah Gray what the biggest adjustment was to pitching in the majors versus the minors, to which he replied that he couldn't get by just blowing his fastball by hitters. Josiah has had to learn how to pitch effectively rather than relying purely on talent. He's committed to his craft and getting better, and I think this is the year we see the rewards of his hard work.