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Blue Jays mid-term report card: Robbie Ray

Toronto Blue Jays v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Robbie Ray, he of the tight pants, tight jersey, tight sleeves. It’s all tight with Robbie. And it all seems to work, so if it makes him happy. But my wife will watch for a few moments and wonder if his uniform shrank in the wash. Maybe a George Costanza moment?

He also sweats like no pitcher I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, in 15 starts, Ray has a 6-3 record, a 3.43 ERA. In 86.2 innings, he’s allowed 76 hits, a league-leading 19 home runs, 21 walks with 113 strikeouts. How many times has a full-time starter had a season with as many home runs as walks? Ray is close.

His walk rate was 17.9% last year and is 6.2% this year. I wonder if there has ever been a starting pitcher who brought his walk rate down to one-third (I did one third in numbers, and it changed the font size of the rest of the post, I’ve never seen that before, so we’ll go with the clunky words) of what it was the year back.

The other cool thing about his numbers is his ground ball rate has jumped. Last year he had a 24.3% ground ball rate. This year, 42.7. But then more of his fly balls are leaving the park than ever, 22.1%. So I’m wondering, or maybe hoping, that this is a blip, and his number will go down to a more normal rate by the season’s end.

FanGraphs also shows that his fastball is slightly faster than last year, averaging 95.0 MPH from 93.7 last year.

Buck and Pat keep telling us that he doesn’t tire and is as strong late in the game as he is early. But the numbers don’t really follow that. You can’t really judge his level of fatigue just by his fastball velocity. Often it is location that leaves a player before his velocity.

Batters OPS by Pitch Count:

  • Pitch 1-25: .752
  • Pitch 26-50: .421
  • Pitch 51-75: .642
  • Pitch 76-100: 1.062

So yes, he tires. 9 of his 19 home runs allowed happened after his 75th pitch.

Not that I think Charlie should pull him from the game at 75 pitches or anything. Pushing him should (might?) help his stamina.

14 of his home runs came with the bases empty.

If we didn’t already have three players going to the All-Star game (and likely Bo Bichette as well), I’d expect Robbie to be getting the call.

Robbie’s Baseball-Reference WAR is 2.4, but his FanGraphs WAR is 1.0. His FiP (4.20) is quite a bit higher than his ERA, likely because of the number of home runs. FiP takes it for granted home runs will come with a more random number of players on base. I’m not sure if that is fair.

Ray is setting himself up to make a lot of money over the next several seasons. I want the Jays to re-sign him, but he is likely to want to check out his value on the open market. Unless, of course, he likes working with Pete Walker, and he likes the ‘promise of the future’ with the Jays.


For the first half, I’d give Robbie Ray an

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