It is safe to say that Robbie Ray has been one of the strongest players not only in the Blue Jays rotation but across the entire pitching corps.
Signing with the club this past off-season on a one-year deal worth $8 million dollars, not many would have predicted the season the southpaw is having. After yesterday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles, Ray moves to a 10-5 record with a 2.71 ERA through 26 starts with 202 strikeouts through 159.1 innings of work. The starter currently owns a 1.01 WHIP on the season as well as keeping opponents to a .208 batting average with 11.41 strikeouts per nine innings.
More impressively, Ray eclipsed 1000.0 innings pitched yesterday against the Orioles and broke a major league record for the most strikeouts when a pitcher reaches the milestone, racking up 1241 K’s and breaking Yu Darvish’s record of 1222 strikeouts through 1000.0 innings.
Blue Jays starter Robbie Ray was impressive last night against Baltimore, breaking the strikeout record for pitchers who reached 1000 innings.
Not only did he reach that impressive feat, but he also joins elite company amongst Blue Jays pitchers in being the second pitcher in the franchise’s history to reach 200+ strikeouts in 26 games or fewer, joining Roger Clemens and his 1997 season with the Jays.
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For what it is worth, Clemens finished that season with a 2.05 ERA through 34 starts, and while Ray will most likely not reach the same innings pitched mark Clemens set given he missed the start of the campaign after falling down a flight of stairs, the former Blue Jays pitcher won the CY-Young that season, an award that Ray is currently in the running for.
The Blue Jays left-hander’s 2.71 ERA puts him seventh in the league and second in the American League behind only Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox while being second in the entire league in strikeouts, trailing only Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies (208).
While he is not the clear favourite, Ray has started to enter the CY Young conversation amongst the likes of Lynn and New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and a strong finish to the campaign could see him surpass his competitors.
More importantly, Ray has been the shining light in the Blue Jays rotation that has emerged as the shut-down starter fans were hoping to see from other arms in the rotation like Hyun Jin Ryu and top prospect Nate Pearson before injuries derailed his campaign.
Ryu has still impressed with his 3.88 ERA through 25 starts and Alek Manoah has pitched well in his rookie campaign (3.15 ERA through 14 starts and 74.1 innings) but if the Blue Jays do make the Wild Card, it will most likely be Ray starting the game given his impressive season.
The club currently sits 4.5 games out of a spot in the Wild Card, and while their playoff odds have dropped to 11.0%, there is still a chance the Blue Jays could reach postseason baseball. They will need to go on an impressive run to close out the campaign but there is still a chance, which is better than no chance at all.
While the season has been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Jays organization, it was a nice surprise to see Robbie Ray emerge as one of the frontrunners of the rotation.
It is unfortunate that the club did not sign him to a longer-term deal given that he will command a lot more than the $8 million he is making this season in the upcoming free agency period, but having Ray back in the fold next season and beyond would be a great benefit to the team moving forward, with some personal hardware on his mantle if he can continue to throw well this season.