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Blue Jays: Robbie Ray is raising his value with every start

Aug 7, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) returns to the dugout after the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 7, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) returns to the dugout after the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /
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Robbie Ray has been a bargain for the Blue Jays on a one year, eight million dollar pact in 2021. These days he’s raising his future value with every start he makes, and in the process he’s setting himself up to be a very rich man.

As a pending free agent and a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award, the flamethrower has likely set himself up for at least a 4-5 year contract as a free agent, and it’s starting to feel like a lock that he’ll be offered 10 times what he received last winter. If he keeps pitching the way he has in the second half, he could even be looking at 100 million or more.

It works in his favour that he’s still just 29 years old (he’ll be 30 on October 1st), and he’s making the most of the best time in his career to be a pending free agent. After last night’s dominant performance against one of the best teams in the American League in the White Sox, Ray has lowered his ERA to 2.72, his WHIP to 1.02, and has now struck out an AL-leading 192 batters over 152.1 innings pitched. Those numbers put him at or near the top of the pitching leaderboards, and he’s entered a different tier of starters in baseball.

With drastically improved control in 2021, Ray has transformed himself into a legitimate staff ace. He’s been performing that way pretty much all season, but more recently he’s been on another level altogether.

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He entered last night’s start with a 2.01 ERA and a 0.985 WHIP since the All-Star break, and has held opposing hitters to a slash line of just .199/.254/.323, and that was before he struck out 14 White Sox over eight innings. I feel like that doesn’t tell enough of the story either, so I went and had a look at his game log. Here are his 5 most recent starts.

Aug 26 vs. CHI- 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 14 K, 1 walk
Aug 20 vs. DET- 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 hits, 11 K, 0 walks
Aug 13 vs. SEA- 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 hits, 8 K, 1 walk
Aug 7 vs. BOS-  6.0, 0 ER, 2 hits, 5 K, 2 walks
Aug 2 vs. CLE- 6.0, 2 ER, 6 hits, 4 K, 3 walks

Ray began the month of August with an impressive resume that included a 3.04 ERA and he’s managed to improve his numbers despite making two starts against the Red Sox, and then dominating against the White Sox last night. If there was any question about whether he’s for real, he’s proving the naysayers wrong every time he takes the mound.

While Ray will be part of a fairly deep free agent class for starting pitchers, he should have more appeal because of his relative youth. The other big names could include the likes of Max Scherzer (37 years old), Justin Verlander (39), Zach Greinke (38), and Clayton Kershaw (34) among others. There will be other more youthful options such as Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Kevin Gausman, assuming their teams don’t extend them first, but either way, Ray stands out for his combination of recent performance and age-related risks that come with pitchers.

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Prior to his fantastic August I predicted that Robbie Ray would land a deal in the 4 year, 70 million dollar range, and he’s already made those numbers look really light. Lately he’s been adding to his value with every time he takes the mound, and if I were to give an updated guess, I now think he’ll land a five year pact for somewhere between 90-100 million. If he keeps this up, he might even push that number a little higher.

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