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Preview, #161: 9/28 vs. Padres

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Robbie Ray takes the mound for his final start of 2019.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

PADRES DIAMONDBACKS
Manuel Margot - CF Jarrod Dyson - CF
Wil Myers - LF Josh Rojas - LF
Manny Machado - 3B Eduardo Escobar - 2B
Eric Hosmer - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Hunter Renfroe - RF Jake Lamb - 3B
Ty France - 2B Adam Jones - RF
Luis Urias - SS Nick Ahmed - SS
Austin Hedges - C Alex Avila - C
Garrett Richards - RHP Robbie Ray - LHP

Robbie Ray has already set a career high with 225 strikeouts this year, good enough for ninth on the all-time single season list as a Diamondback. You’ll not be surprised to hear that Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling dominate the spots above Ray, occupying places 1-7 between them. But Ray has put together a solid run of seasons, striking out 218 or more in three of the last four seasons: 2018 being the exception, due to him making only 24 starts that year. Still, since the start of 2016, he has 826 strikeouts, a figure surpassed by just two men in the National League, Max Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom. And at 30.7%, his K% is actually superior to the latter (29.5%).

Of course, that is literally only half the story. Ray’s walk-rate, at 10.9%, is also among the top tier - just not, obviously, as a good thing. Among the top sixty pitchers on that strikeout list over the last four season, only one has walked people at a higher rate than Robbie (Tyler Chatwood at 13.2%). It’s this which has stopped Ray from becoming a truly elite pitcher over the last few seasons. He did improve somewhat in that department over 2019, trimming the walk rate from 13.3% to 11.3%. But that’s still well above MLB average at 8.2%. Next year will be his last before free agency, and it’ll be interesting to see what the team does. Trade him? Extend him? Let him walk? You could make a case for any of those three.

Elsewhere in the majors, we’ll be looking to see if the Cardinals and Brewers can figure out who wants to win the NL Central. Both sides lost on Friday, so St. Louis retains its one-game lead in the division, now with two left to play. Meanwhile, the Rays and A’s have officially clinched their wild-card spots in the American League, eliminating the Indians. Both teams have identical 96-64 records, so home-field advantage there is up for grabs. In the NL, Washington has the edge there now; their victory over Cleveland gives them a two-game cushion over the current wild-card team in Milwaukee. We’ll see if tonight sorts anything out, or if it’ll all go down to the wire in Sunday’s season finales.