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Preview, #17: 4/16 @ Braves

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If Ray can get an out past the fifth inning, that’ll be more than he’s done in most of his previous 30 starts.

Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS BRAVES
Adam Jones - RF Ozzie Albies - 2B
Ketel Marte - CF Josh Donaldson - 3B
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Freddie Freeman - 1B
David Peralta - LF Ronald Acuna - LF
Christian Walker - 1B Johan Camargo - RF
Wilmer Flores - 2B Dansby Swanson - SS
Nick Ahmed - SS Tyler Flowers - C
Carson Kelly - C Ender Inciarte - CF
Robbie Ray - LHP Max Fried - LHP

Always a painful experience facing the Braves, as we have to see former D-backs like Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson, basically given away in the Dave Stewart era. On that basis, I am not looking forward to Thursday, where Touki Toussaint is the scheduled starter for Atlanta, but let’s get through today and tomorrow first, shall we? We’ll get to see tonight whether the much improved Robbie Ray we say against Texas is capable of taking that form on the road. Or will he revert to the previous five-walk levels shown in his previous outings away from Chase, in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Was chatting to Jack about Robbie just this morning; in the event the D-backs fall out of contention by the All-Star break, we would not be surprised to see Ray on the trade block. If that’s going to happen, it would be helpful if he’d choose the next couple of months to go on one of his patented hot streaks where he utterly dominates opposing line-ups, start after start. He has about one of those a year. In 2018, it was his final eight starts, putting up a 2.09 ERA, striking out 61 batters in 43 innings. Indeed, he ended 2017 in similar form: 2.27 ERA and 67 K’s over 43.1 innings, after an even better five-game spurt in May/June. Doing it before the trade deadline this year, would be preferable...

Length continues to be an issue for Ray. Over his last 30 outings, going back to the last three in the 2017 season, he has recorded an out past the sixth inning just twice, and the majority (16) have lasted five innings or shorter. Even in an era where managers are leaning on their bullpen harder than ever, it’s an issue - especially when the two long relievers on the Arizona roster, Matts Koch and Andriese, have a combined ERA in double digits. I think I speak for most fans, when I say that the return of T.J. McFarland can’t come quickly enough. At least the bullpen should be well enough rested after an off-day Monday, and a relatively well-pitched series by our weekend starters.