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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-6, Robbie Ray

Stellar strikeout rate. Now, about that ERA...

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 6: Robbie Ray

  • Date of birth: October 1, 1991
  • Ht/Wt: 6’2”, 195 lbs
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 32 games. 174.1 IP, 4.90 ERA, 218:71 K:BB
  • SnakePit Rating: 7.43 [breakdown of votes below]

It has been said so often it’s bordering on #DeadHorse territory, but Robbie Ray’s strikeout rate last year deserved a much better ERA. There have only been 25 qualifying pitchers who K’d 11 per nine innings or better (Ray’s was 11.3). Their median ERA was 2.76, more than two runs below Ray, who was also over a run higher than any of the other 24 - the next highest was Max Scherzer’s 3.74 in 2012. The average W-L record posted by everyone else was 17-8, with just Nolan Ryan in 1987, not having a winning record; Ray last year went 8-15. That’s the chasm between peripherals and results we’re looking at: it can be seen on the back of the Arizona state quarter.

While we should hope for better, it is worth noting this wasn’t all “bad luck”. At 3.76, Ray’s FIP (fielding independent ERA) was also the highest of the 25 men. This is mostly because Robbie’s home-run rate (1.24 per nine IP) was worst of them all, 50% above the median of 0.83, and also because his walk-rate was above average (ranked 19th of 25 at 3.67, compared to a 2.75 median). If Ray is going to become an elite pitcher - and 20 of those other 24 seasons were posted by pitchers who won the Cy Young at some time in their career - he’ll need to cut back on both the free-passes given out and the long-balls allowed.

There has already been a lot written about Ray, both here and elsewhere, so I’ll just leave these here, if you’re up for a more detailed discussion of his positives, negatives, and how he can improve in 2017:

But for now, it’s entirely theoretical. We’ve all seen how thoroughly dominating Ray can be. We’ve all also seen how he can take 25 pitches to get through an inning, and be gone by the end of the fifth. Putting the pieces together for more of the former would go a very long way to ensuring the 2017 Diamondbacks season is a better one than it was in 2016.

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