News

Former Dodgers Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz earning their stripes with Nationals – Daily News



LOS ANGELES ― The highly anticipated trade for Juan Soto – wherever he goes, whenever he goes there – is expected to fetch the Washington Nationals a core of young players to build a franchise around.

The Nats already have two such players, thanks to the Dodgers.

Pitcher Josiah Gray, 24, started Tuesday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. His catcher was 24-year-old Keibert Ruiz. One year ago Saturday, the battery was packaged together as part of the trade that brought three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner to the Dodgers. It was a sensible trade then and now, with no obvious winner or loser.

Gray began the week with 29 starts in a Washington uniform, in which he’s 7-6 with a 4.40 ERA (5.22 FIP).

“It’s a unique fastball, there’s a low arm slot, there’s rise, and there’s a slider in there,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s been very good against right-handed hitters. Had a tougher time against left-handed hitters, but I know he’s going to be amped up to pitch against us at Dodger Stadium.”

Gray’s best attribute might be his durability. He has only missed one start in the year since the trade.

The Dodgers acquired Gray from Cincinnati in the Dec. 2018 deal that sent Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer to the Reds.

The Dodgers signed Ruiz as an amateur out of Venezuela in July 2014. He emerged as a top-100 prospect in 2018, played in that year’s Futures Game, and was an everyday major league catcher upon being traded.

Since then, he has hit .257 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 99 games with the Nationals.

“Keibert’s going to be a really good player for quite some time,” Roberts said. “The main thing for him is to take down the catching duties and get familiarized with the pitcher. He has a lot of bat-to-ball (skill). He’s aggressive in the box. There has never really been a lot of power, but he’s just got really elite bat-to-ball both sides of the plate.”

Turner and Scherzer were the stars of the swap. Scherzer emerged as a contender for the 2021 NL Cy Young Award after the trade and had the lowest postseason ERA (2.16) of any Dodger starter last year. Turner won a batting title and finished fifth in 2021 NL MVP voting while playing alongside Corey Seager. More recently, he was voted an All-Star starter.

But their performances would have been wasted with the Nationals, who arrived in Los Angeles with the majors’ worst record. They would have been unlikely to help the next good Nationals team, too. Scherzer has already left Los Angeles in free agency, while Turner can sign elsewhere after this season.

Gray and Ruiz, meanwhile, have time to mature. Neither can become a free agent until 2028. If trading Soto allows the Nationals’ front office to restock their farm system with Dodgers prospects again, they can’t be too disappointed with the first crop.

BULLPEN SWAP

The Dodgers optioned right-handed pitcher Reyes Moronta to Triple-A Oklahoma City and recalled left-hander Garrett Cleavinger.

Cleavinger had made three major league appearances this season when the Dodgers optioned him to Triple-A on May 15. He has a 2.79 ERA in 22 games (one start) at Oklahoma City.

Moronta had allowed a run in six consecutive appearances prior to Monday’s game against the Nationals. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the series opener, but he walked two batters and threw two wild pitches.

This is the fourth time Moronta has been optioned to the minors in 2022. Teams are limited to optioning players five times during the season. After the fifth time, the Dodgers would have to place Moronta on outright assignment waivers to assign him to the minor leagues.

Moronta has a 4.67 ERA in 17⅓ innings across 16 major league appearances.

INJURY UPDATES

Left fielder Chris Taylor did some light jogging on the field again, and also took ground balls at second base. Roberts said the decision to have Taylor play some second base during his minor league rehabilitation – tentatively scheduled to begin next Tuesday with Triple-A Oklahoma City – had little do with the emergence of left field platoon partners Trayce Thompson and Jake Lamb.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of downside, as far as having Chris get re-familiarized with second base,” Roberts said. “I love the platoon in left field with those two guys, but I trust Chris anywhere on the diamond. In-game, hit for guys, move guys around, injuries potentially, having him be able to take down second base is helpful.”



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close