All Hail Sonny Gray! What a rascal. What a pitcher. What a personality. What a wonderful addition to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gray is marvelous with his combination of excellent pitching, hardwired intensity, endearing eccentricity and showcraft. For a franchise that’s short on fun and low on entertainment value, Gray provides theatrical flair. Each start is an event.

Gray is good for the mental health of the fans. We can be angry and frustrated by so many things about this team. The 15-17 record. The dull offense. Assorted front–office misdemeanors. Depending on the intensity of the bad-mood meter following every team loss, the BFIB want to fire the president of baseball operations, the manager, the hitting coach, and the owner.

The BFIB want to demote players, bench players, remove pitchers from the rotation, and put ineffective relievers in a kennel. The BFIB obsessively follow hitters and pitchers who found success and became stars once they got out of St. Louis.

Nobody wants to fire Sonny Gray.

There BFIB have no complaints about Sonny Gray.

There isn’t a single sane soul out there hollering about John Mozeliak being a buffoon for signing Gray to a three-year, $75 million contract.

No one wants to remove Sonny Gray from the rotation.

No one wants to see Sonny Gray removed from a game.

Sonny Gray is the ace, the hope, the leader, the smiley-face that appears every fifth day.

Friday night, he blanked the White Sox over seven scoreless innings of three-hit, six-strikeout pitching … his sweeper pitch brushed the White Sox away and set up a 3-0 victory for the home team at Busch Stadium.

This dude even removes his clothes during a start, getting fully nekked to cleanse the mild stench of an unsatisfactory inning. Yes, as you’ve heard, Gray did this after the top of the third inning Friday.

In his evaluation, Gray was bothered by being less than perfect against the White Sox in the frame. He had to face six batters! He gave up a single, a walk, a stolen base! He threw a wild pitch! Oh, the horror of it all. Disgusting!

Here’s what Gray told John Denton of MLB.com and other reporters after the game:

“I’ve done this before — I just came in here after the third and took all my clothes off and got redressed with new cleats, socks, underwear, pants, belt, jersey, and hat and said, ‘You’re a new guy, now start over. So, that’s kind of how I reset it.” Gray joked that he reemerged from the clubhouse as a “different person.”

We don’t know about that. But after making the costume change, Gray reappeared … and was even more impossible to deal with for the White Sox. Over his final four innings Gray faced only one batter over the minimum, allowing a ground-ball single in the fifth.


+ The Cardinals are 4-1 in his starts. They are 11-16 in all other games.

+ Gray’s five starts: 30 and ⅓ innings, three earned runs, 0.89 ERA, 33.3 percent strikeout rate. Opponents have batted .194 against him with a .230 onbase percentage and .250 slugging percentage.

+ Gray’s 0.89 ERA is second best in the majors among starting pitchers that have logged 30+ innings. Shota Imanaga (Cubs) is stingier with a 0.78 ERA.

+ Gray’s 33.3 percent strikeout rate is third best among MLB starting pitchers. His K-BB% – the difference between his strikeout and walk rate – is 28.9 percent. That ranks No. 2 among starters.

+ Gray’s sweeper pitch is the best in the show. In five starts opponents are 4 for 29 against the sweeper (.138). All four hits were singles. He’s getting a 53 percent swing-whiff rate on the sweeper – and 21 of the 31 hitters have gone down on strikeouts. That’s a preposterous strikeout rate of 67.7 percent.

+ When pitching with runners in scoring position, Gray has allowed an .095 batting average and struck out 41 percent of hitters faced.

+ Gray has not allowed an earned run in 29 of his 30.1 innings pitched.

+ Gray has not allowed an earned run in the first four innings of his starts. And in his five starts he’s been nipped for just one earned run in 30 innings from the first through the sixth inning.

+ This historical note from Denton: Gray is the first Cardinals player with three-plus wins, 30 or more innings pitched, and a sub-1.00 ERA in his first five starts of the season since Al Jackson in 1966.

+ The three free-agent starters signed by Mozeliak last offseason – Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson – collectively have a 2.54 ERA and 24 percent strikeout rate. The team is 11-6 in their starts – and only 4-13 in all other games,


All stats through Friday’s game.

1. Willson Contreras, Nolan Arenado: They WERE the offense in Friday’s win. Contreras batted second, and Arenado was at cleanup. Combined, they had five hits in seven at-bats (.714) with a walk, three doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored. Arenado drove in all three of his team’s runs. Contreras reached base in all four of his plate appearances (three hits and a walk) and scored twice on Arenado doubles.

2. Arenado’s Contributions: As we all know, he’s hit only one home run since Aug. 20 of last season. But at least Arenado is helping the team in other ways. In his last 19 games Arenado is batting .304 and is getting on base at a good rate with a .388 OBP. His slugging percentage (.420) since April 12 is an improvement over where he had been. Arenado leads the team with 11 RBIs since April 12. Arenado is playing standout defense, leading all major-league third basemen with four Outs Above Average.

3. Lockdown Late-Inning Relief: JoJo Romero and Ryan Helsley shut down the White Sox over the final two innings to preserve Gray’s excellent start and secure the win. Helsley leads the majors with 11 saves and has failed only one time in 12 opportunities. That’s a save rate of 92 percent. Among closers that have had more than eight save opportunities this season, only Robert Suarez (Padres) has done better than Helsley by going 10 for 10 (100%) in save situations. The St. Louis bullpen has a 2.20 ERA this season from the seventh inning through the end of the game. That ranks second in the NL and fourth overall.


All stats through Friday’s game. 

1. The Same Ol’ Offense: The Cardinals scored 3 runs last night – imagine that! – and have now been held to three tallies or fewer in 20 of 32 games. They’re 6-14 when scoring three runs or less this season. Their .300 winning percentage in three-or-less games may not seem like much. But it’s actually tied for the sixth best in the majors, which is all about St. Louis pitching keeping the other side down.

The Cardinals’ average of 3.5 runs scored per game is the poorest in the majors this season. And through the first 32 games of a season the 2024 Cardinals have the lowest per-game scoring average in the 29 seasons of DeWitt franchise ownership that began in 1996. The ‘24 team also has the lowest batting average (.219) and onbase percentage (.299) through the first 32 games of the DeWitt years.

2. The Leadoff Spot: With Brendan Donovan clogged in a severe slump, the St. Louis leadoff spot ranks 24th in the majors and 13 in the NL with a .290 onbase percentage. Their batting average in the No. 1 slot (.206) is 26th overall and 13th in the NL. In his last 18 games Donovan is hitting .162 with a .220 OBP and .230 slug. Donny’s walk rate – 13.7% in his first 13 games – is only 6 percent in the last 18. Donovan has scored only three runs in his last 18 games.

3. Contreras & Arenado And Not Much Else: In Friday’s game the lineup spots occupied by hitters other than Arenado and Contreras went 1 for 24 with two walks, six strikeouts, one run scored – and were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.