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Game #151 Preview: 9/22, Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers

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Mission: Delay Dodger Delight continues this evening in Los Angeles.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The La Russa Heartbreakometer

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Heart Left WWWWWWW Heart right
Robbie Ray
LHP, 4-12, 3.72
Alex Wood
LHP, 11-10, 3.63
Nick Ahmed - SS Justin Ruggiano - LF
Chris Owings - 2B Howie Kendrick - 2B
A.J. Pollock - CF Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Scott Van Slyke - RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C Corey Seager - SS
Yasmany Tomas - RF A.J. Ellis - C
David Peralta - LF Chris Heisey - CF
Brandon Drury - 3B Alex Guerrero - 3B
Robbie Ray - LHP Alex Wood - LHP

A solid performance from the Diamondbacks offense last night, doing a good job of getting to Brett Anderson and stringing hits together against him. Can they do the same this evening against Alex Wood? I'd certainly settle for a repeat of the results from both starters, of the time when Ray and Wood faced off on September 11 at Chase Field. That night, Wood was gone before the end of the second inning, and was charged with eight earned runs, while Ray tossed five shutout innings of two-run ball. Of course, this being Robbie Ray, it took him not far short of 100 pitches to get through those frames.

That has been his way. His last five outings have lasted a total of 23.1 innings, but have required him to throw 486 pitches, which is an average of 20.8 pitches per frame. That's just not sustainable, and he simply must become more efficient going forward. Overall, in Ray and Jeremy Hellickson, we have two of the ten starters with the shortest outings in the National League, averaging a paltry 5.6 and 5.4 innings per start this season. But the reasons are somewhat different: Hellickson faces quite a lot of batters, while Ray throws a lot of pitches per batter. Indeed, Robbie's average of 4.16 pitches/PA is tops among all 121 qualified pitchers in the majors.

This seems to be a result of his high foul-rate. 32.4% of Ray's strikes are fouled off, fourth highest among those pitchers, and you get virtually nobody out off a foul - looking strikes, swinging strikes and even balls in play are all better. It's an awkward scenario, with Ray's pitch not being good enough to get a clean swing and miss, yet too good for the hitter to get solid wood on the ball. As I keep saying just about every start, he is young, and it would be wrong to throw him out on the basis of this not being something which is fixable. A slight adjustment, turning just a few of those fouls into clean strikes, could have a very significant impact. Now, what that adjustment might be....