Arizona Diamondbacks Should Not Put Robbie Ray in Bullpen


Acquired by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the three team trade that sent Didi Gregorious to the Yankees, Robbie Ray had been expected to fill out the starting rotation. One of the young arms that the Diamondbacks acquired this past offseason, Ray is just a season removed from being the centerpiece of the Doug Fister trade, and still has plenty of potential to turn into a solid piece in the rotation.

However, Ray struggled last season in his only year with the Tigers, posting a 1-4 record with an 8.16 ERA and a 1.884 WHiP in his 28.2 innings of work. Those struggles have continued during Spring Training, as Ray has posted a 5.25 ERA and a 1.500 WHiP. Understandably, Ray now finds himself battling with Rubby De La Rosa  and others for that final spot in the rotation.

Even if Robbie Ray does not find himself in the Arizona Diamondbacks starting rotation, that does not mean that he will not be a part of the team this season. With the Diamondbacks potentially needing another lefty reliever, General Manager Dave Stewart has mentioned Ray as a possibility for the bullpen, making him a part of a competition that includes Andrew Chafin, Matt Reynolds, Randall Delgado, Daniel Hudson, Enrique Burgos, Vidal Nuno, and non-roster invitee Dan Runzler and A.J. Schugel. Keep in mind that Delgado and Hudson could still win rotation spots.

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As a lefty who relied predominately on his fastball and change last season, Ray would seemingly fit well in a relief role. Armed with a fastball that sat in the mid 90’s during his brief stint in the Tigers bullpen last season, Ray would seem to be a solid lefty arm for a Diamondbacks bullpen that may be in need of help.

That may not be the best role for Robbie Ray going forward, however. While there is the caveat of it being a small sample size, Ray did not pitch overly well in relief last season, allowing four runs, including two home runs, in 2.2 innings of relief. Likewise, left handed hitters produced a .351/.375/.514 batting line against Ray in 41 plate appearances. Those numbers do not exactly jump out as someone who would potentially thrive in a relief role.

While it may be a great idea in theory to move Ray to the bullpen if he loses out in the competition for the fifth starter role, it just does not seem like the right move for the Arizona Diamondbacks. At age 23, Ray still has plenty of time to continue to develop, and slotting him into the rotation in Reno may be the best option.

Robbie Ray is expected to be a part of the Arizona Diamondbacks future. They would seem to be better served by keeping him as a starter.