HomeTeamsNationalsJosiah Gray Leads Nationals to Kick Off 2024 Season

Josiah Gray Leads Nationals to Kick Off 2024 Season

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On Thursday afternoon, Josiah Gray will take the mound for his first ever Opening Day start for the Washington Nationals in Cincinnati against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. He will face off against Frankie Montas. He hopes to start them off on a high note that they can build on, in what he hopes will be a season of growth for both him and his team. 

Gray was a first-time all-star last season, posting a career high 30 starts in 2023, going 8-13 with a 3.91 ERA in 159 innings.

Gray shared how special the moment was when his head coach, Davey Martinez, broke the good news to him.

“A really cool feeling,” Gray said to MLB.com. “When you get to the big leagues, you don’t really think about that. But it was really cool to hear that from him [Martinez] and just to be able to enjoy the moment with my family and everyone that is finding out now.”

Gray is a new face on Opening Day, the first that isn’t one of the big three from their 2019 World Series Championship (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin) since 2011. Thursday will be a full circle moment for the 26 year old, who was drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 2018 MLB draft. He never played a game in a Reds uniform, as he was traded to the Dodgers then soon after to Nationals as a part of the Max Scherzer trade; to say the least, it has been a whirlwind roller coaster full of growth over the last six years.

“‘Progress’ is probably the first word that comes to mind, because of how I’ve progressed through the league in the short amount of time I’ve been a Major Leaguer,” Gray continued. “I just remember my first big league camp being with the Dodgers and getting cut and thinking how that feeling was, and to say you’re going to be our first arm out of Spring Training going into the season is really cool and really surreal.”

Gray showed significant signs of improvement year over year, going from a 5.48 ERA in 2021 to a 5.02 ERA in 2022 and finishing with a 3.91 ERA last year. He still has a ways to go to get into the league’s top right handed pitchers conversation, but if he can perform more consistently across the entire season in 2024, he might be back at the Summer Classic in Arlington, Texas, on the mound for the National League. 

Both the Nationals and Josiah hope he can continue that gradual improvement and step up as the ace of the squad to help the Nationals rise to Wild Card contention.

“To get the Opening Day nod, it shows the trust and the level of support I have from Davey, the front office and everyone that I’ve made progress from where I was in 2021 as a rookie to where we are in 2024.”

The Nationals road to working back to relevance begins at 4:10pm ET Thursday.

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