Athletics' Gray will come off DL to start vs. Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- One of the American League's best pitchers last year will make his first start in more than seven weeks when the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels conclude their three-game series Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.
Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray, an All-Star last year, will be activated from the disabled list to start for the first time since Aug. 6 and for just the second time since the end of July.
The 26-year-old native of Nashville went on the disabled list for the second time this year when he strained his right forearm last month while pitching against the Chicago Cubs. That strain resulted in an inflamed elbow. In May, a strained right trapezius muscle put Gray on the disabled list for two weeks.
All told, the left-hander has missed 57 games this season.
Last year, Gray finished third in voting for the Cy Young Award after compiling the American League's third-best ERA (2.73) while winning 14 games and amassing 183 strikeouts.
A's manager Bob Melvin, who announced the decision Sunday, said Gray would be on a strict pitch limit and likely would not work more than two innings.
Melvin told MLB.com that the purpose for Gray's brief outing will be for the left-hander to "get on a mound and get after it and know you're healthy going into the offseason," he said. "That is really what we're looking for."
Gray faced hitters in a bullpen session before Saturday's game against the Texas Rangers and said he felt no ill effects.
"I know in my mind I'm fine to pitch next year," Gray told the San Jose Mercury News, "and that's what's important."
Opposing Gray will be right-hander Alex Meyer, whose past two outings provided a glimpse into the kind of potential that made him a first-round draft choice in 2013.
On Sept. 18, Meyer earned his first major-league victory in a 4-0 decision over the Blue Jays. Meyer pitched five shutout innings, amassed a career-high seven strikeouts and scattered two hits and three walks while throwing a fastball that reached 98 mph.
"That stuff out there was electric," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said afterward. "He had great angles, great velocity, and he was spinning the ball well."
Then on Friday night against the Houston Astros, Meyer conceded one run, three hits and a walk in his first five innings before loading the bases on an infield single and two walks with one out in the sixth. Though Meyer was charged with four runs, the Angels used a six-run rally in the ninth inning to earn a 10-6 victory.
Meyer and fellow right-hander Ricky Nolasco came to Los Angeles at the trading deadline from the Minnesota Twins in a four-player deal for left-hander Hector Santiago. Meyer follows Nolasco in the Angels' rotation, so being able to consult with the 11-year veteran has proved valuable, especially since Nolasco and two relievers combined to shut the Astros out Thursday night.
"I was talking to him about what he did," Meyer told MLB.com. "Being able to pitch right behind him has definitely helped. He's a smart pitcher."