|Michael Bourn - CF||Jake Elmore - 3B|
|Phil Gosselin - 2B||Scooter Gennett - 2B|
|Jean Segura - SS||Ryan Braun - LF|
|Paul Goldschmidt - 1B||Chris Carter - 1B|
|Rickie Weeks - LF||Hernan Perez - SS|
|Yasmany Tomas - RF||Martin Maldonado - C|
|Brandon Drury - 3B||Keon Broxton - CF|
|Tuffy Gosewisch - C||Ramon Flores - RF|
|Robbie Ray - LHP||Zach Davies - RHP|
After the pleasant surprise which was last night's Milwaukee mauling - assisted, admittedly, by the home team's rank incompetence - the D-backs will seek a split of the four game series. Robbie Ray continues to be an enigma. His strikeout rate is positively elite, and when I say that, here are the top six qualified pitchers by K-rate in the majors this year. Jose Fernandez, Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard, Stephen Strasburg, Ray and Clayton Kershaw. Yep: Robbie is fanning people at a better rate than the reigning Cy Young winner. However, all those other pitchers have ERAs below three. Why is Ray's north of four and a half?
If we look in more detail at the top 10 in the NL by strikeout rate, we may get more of a clue.
There seem to be a few factors. Perhaps surprisingly, home-runs don't seem necessarily to be a particular problem - he's allowed one more than Strasburg, and one fewer than Bumgarner, whose ERA of 2.09 is also much better than Ray. Control would be a problem: Ray's 43 walks are the most among the top 10: but it's virtually an identical rate to Pomeranz, whose ERA is two runs better. What particularly stands out is that batters are hitting Ray at a .277 rate, which is far above virtually anyone else on the list. I think it's a combination: hits, walks and home-runs. A starter can be weak in one area, but if they're strong in the other two, their ERA will remain limited.
But in Ray's case, he has the highest BA, highest OBP and highest SLG of any among the "whiffiest" pitchers, and that leads to him having an elevated ERA. Hopefully, he can figure out how, say, to walk fewer batters, while still retaining the awesome K-rate. No pitcher for the Diamondbacks has fanned more batters per nine innings than Ray, since 2002, when the double-headed beast of Schillson was putting up video game stats. It's the prospect of Robbie possibly (just, possibly) developing into something along those lines which is why his 2016 starts are such a mix of awe and frustration.