by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Ray is coming off a horrific spring start, allowing 5 ER over 0.2 IP. Obviously it’s just Spring Training so we try not to draw any conclusions, but he is one of the more hyped pitchers entering the season given his elite strikeout stuff and 2.89 ERA in 2017.
There are two main questions entering 2018, and both of them showed themselves over the weekend. Was it an aberration or is there real cause for concern?
He walked two batters on Saturday against the Dodgers, and while his overall 3.94 BB/9 looks unappealing he showed signs as 2017 wore on:
- August – 3.09
- September – 2.56
Overall he posted a 3.05 BB/9 in the second half. That corresponded with increased usage of his slider (25.05%) from July 1 on (he was at 15.74% over the first few months). With a 25.67% Whiff% on the pitch it makes sense, though we’ll have to see how he utilizes his repertoire moving forward.
Ray posted a 1.28 HR/9 last season and was tagged for a pair of home runs on Saturday. While giving up a home run to Matt Kemp isn’t unreasonable, Kyle Farmer also took him deep.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that last year’s issue came more at home:
- Home – 1.56
- Road – 1.03
Obviously the installation of a humidor is going to have an impact, and bringing that home number down will help significantly.
The fact is that Ray could’ve been working on any number of things in this outing. Everyone is going to stumble from time-to-time, and the signs he showed last season are promising. Maybe he’s not quite as good of a control pitcher, but even at a 3.50 type mark the likely improvement in his home runs allowed will help. There is going to be a regression in his luck metrics (most notably his 84.5% strand rate), but that shouldn’t be enough to avoid him.
An elite strikeout artist, don’t let this deter you. He won’t match last season’s success, buthe showed the signs and may be the biggest beneficiary from the installation of the humidor. He should be viewed as a Top 15 starter, barring continued struggles this spring.
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 02/20/18|