Back in town. #RattleOn pic.twitter.com/QnKXtWC60b— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 26, 2019
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup in Arizona. #EverybodyIn— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 26, 2019
Stream on @NBCSChicago: https://t.co/rGCuW1XI7C pic.twitter.com/BVU2ysICXR
Yeah, the line-up tool is down, so you’ll have to make do with the official Tweets. You’ll be pleased to hear - I know I am - that I am feeling slightly better today. Admittedly, given the “death warmed up” state in which I was operating yesterday, that may not be saying much, but at least the trend is in the right direction. We’ll see tonight whether Robbie Ray is similarly trending towards better. Last time out, he threw 67.4% strikes, a season high and a considerable improvement over the 58% he had managed in his first four outings. Indeed, that was Ray’s highest strike-rate since July 20 last year, when he reached 67.7%.
It’s worth noting that a high strike-rate does not necessarily mean success. In that outing, Ray was still tagged for five runs over 5.1 innings, on eight hits. But over the 26 outings as a D-back where Ray’s strike/ball ratio has been 2:1 or better, the team has gone 15-11, and Ray himself is 12-4. That makes sense, for obvious reasons: when you’re throwing strikes, you’re less likely to be walking people, which has always been Ray’s Achilles heel. In only one of those strike-heavy outings did Ray walk more than two batters, and we all know how dominant Robbie can be, when he isn’t handing out free passes.
Ray has been pretty dominant against the Cubs, especially of late. Over his five career starts, he has a 1.80 ERA against them, and it drops to less than one - just 0.95 - over his last three outings. Over his career, the Cubs are a collective .170/.284/.260 against him. The D-backs press department tell me that’s the second lowest batting average all-time for the Cubs (min. 5 starts), trailing only Vicente Palacios (.165) and ahead of Sandy Koufax (.177). Hopefully, that domination will continue tonight, and the offense will continue their strong showings. Tacos and pizza are always welcome; maybe by tomorrow, my appetite might actually have returned!