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Preview, #96: 7/17 @ Rangers

Robbie Ray’s durability has been less an issue of late.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS RANGERS
Jarrod Dyson - LF Shin-Soo Choo - RF
Ketel Marte - CF Delino DeShields Jr. - CF
Eduardo Escobar - 2B Elvis Andrus - SS
Christian Walker - 1B Hunter Pence - DH
Adam Jones - RF Danny Santana - LF
Jake Lamb - 3B Logan Forsythe - 1B
Nick Ahmed - SS Rougned Odor - 2B
Kevin Cron - DH Asdrubal Cabrera - 3B
Carson Kelly - C Tim Federowicz - C

I’m sure there will be a host of scouts in attendance at Globe Life Park in Texas tonight, to see Robbie Ray start. Based on the sheer volume of rumors - you can add the Brewers to the list of teams potentially interested - he would be one of the pitchers most likely to be dealt before the trade deadline, two weeks today. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, and will depend as much on what the other 24 players on the D-backs roster do this week. The Cardinals and Brewers have already won their games today, and the Giants also just completed a highly-amusing four-game sweep of the Rockies, so the latter are now tied with the Padres for last in the division. Guess that ongoing division title drought won’t be ending this season...

Both of Robbie’s starts this month have been remarkably similar. Each saw him allow one run, that coming on a solo homer, giving up two hits and getting eight strikeouts - and both also ended up as 4-2 Diamondbacks wins. So that would seem an obvious prediction for this evening’s contest in Texas. The main difference was in the walks: he gave up five bases on balls to the Rockies at Chase Field, but cut that back to two in St. Louis against the Cardinals. That helped him work into the seventh inning as a result, getting an out there for the first time since June 3. But of late, that hasn’t been so much a problem for Ray: seven of his last eight starts have seen him go six innings or more. I’ll take that, quite happily.

It’s a strong improvement on the start of the season: of his first 12 starts, only two lasted six frames, and both of those were exactly six. The main reason is probably that Ray has become more efficient. Over starts #1-12, he was averaging 4.22 pitches per plate appearance; in starts #13-20, that figure has dropped to 3.92 P/PA. Given he has never averaged below four for a full season, it’s impressive, though even this good spell still has him above MLB average (3.86). His strike % is up from 61% to 64%, which has probably helped him reduce his walk-rate from to 5.03 to 3.92 per nine innings. The strikeout rate has dropped a bit too, from 11.78 to 10.49, but Ray’s line-drive and BABIP are both down too.