Around this time two summers ago, the Yankees landed Sonny Gray. The trade with the A's was supposed to be the deal that landed them an ace. Gray's tenure in New York was ultimately a forgettable one, at points looking like he'd never return to the blossoming arm he was in Oakland.
Now with the Cincinnati Reds, Gray is an All-Star.
"I wouldn't change the ups and downs that I had experienced on a personal level and on the baseball field level," Gray said to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. "Because coming back to an All-Star Game, it's just kind of, I can't describe the feeling. It's very special."
Gray's bounce-back campaign has been impressive, as All-Star consideration a season ago would have been unfathomable. He posted a 4.90 ERA and 3.9 BB/9 in his last season with New York.
"I just tried to stay resilient as long as possible," Gray said about his 2018 struggles. "Even last year and the year before, I always tried to show up at the clubhouse with a smile on my face. I think my teammates would say the same. I tried to show up in a positive mood with a smile on my face and do whatever I could to get better."
When talking to The Athletic's Eno Sarris in March, Gray cited the Yankees' push for the slider as a reason for his struggles. "They love sliders. Sliders are a great pitch. The numbers say slider is a good pitch, but you might not realize how many s--tty counts you're getting in while throwing all those sliders."
Despite the claim that sliders were to blame, Gray is actually throwing more of them than he did with the Yankees, using the pitch 17.8 percent of the time compared to 15.9 percent last year.
"I think everyone kind of knows that New York wasn't a great fit for me, place for me, last year. It just didn't seem to work out, for whatever reason," Gray remarked.
This season has been a completely different story. The 29-year-old has pitched to a 3.59 ERA while posting the best strikeout rate of his career (10.3 K/9). His trip to Cleveland marks his second All-Star appearance.