Chris Herrmann of the Arizona Diamondbacks has emerged as Robbie Ray’s exclusive catcher.
Like burgers and fries, fish and chips and mac and cheese, pitcher Robbie Ray and catcher Chris Herrmann of the Arizona Diamondbacks are rapidly becoming a famous pair.
Since Ray started his current hot streak with a 9-1 win at San Diego on May 20, the native of Brentwood, Tenn., has settled in and only thrown to Herrmann. Pitchers have a tendency to throw to one catcher, and perhaps the most noted pair in recent baseball history was Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies throwing to Tim McCarver.
When righty Zack Greinke signed last season with the Diamondbacks, he left the Dodgers where A. J. Ellis was exclusively his catcher. Greinke then settled in with Arizona and had a productive season throwing to Welington Castillo.
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There survives no real theory why pitchers gravitate toward a particular catcher. For the Ray-Herrmann duo, success seems to be postulated.
Coming into his start on Friday night against the Colorado Rockies in Chase Field, Ray is on a 6-0 run in his last seven starts. That includes a 1.31 ERA in that span and 60 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. In his last three starts at Chase, Ray’s ERA is 1.40 and the Diamondbacks have each of his last seven starts and 11 victories in his 15 starts overall this season.
Perhaps there night be one word which characterizes how Ray and Herrmann have emerged as a productive team. That could be “trust,” but Ray also explained to Venom Strikes that there is a total package at work here.
"“This started last season when Chris started to catch some of my bullpen sessions,” Ray said. “A good relationship started and its worked out great. It also helps that our wives are great friends, too.”"
During the course of the season, manager Torey Lovullo likes to explain the Diamondbacks offensive success as linking at-bat together. One example was a 12-pitch walk drawn by Chris Owings last Sunday against the Phillies in the 11th inning and Daniel Descalso followed with a walk-off single. Ray points out that pitchers, as well, have the same objective, and that’s to link strikes together and then link outs together.
"“It’s important that we, as pitchers, do that,” he added. “That way, we can get off the field quicker, put up zeros and then hand the game over to the offense.”"
Ditto for Herrmann, who told Venom Strikes that the comfort level established with Ray clearly pays dividends.
"“I guess the decision is to go with me and Robbie,” he said. “Right now, Robbie is really confident and that shows. I guess by catching him, I get to play every five days. But, really, we have two great catchers (Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta), who are more than capable of catching Ray. It’s seem to see we have great depth behind the plate.”"
For now, the game objective calls for Ray and Herrmann to work together. Lovullo pointed out to Venom Strikes that, at this point, there is no other plan for every fifth Arizona game.
The Colorado Rockies, on an eight-game losing streak, roll into the desert for a three- game series.
The opener features two teams on a losing streak. Save the Rockies, the Diamondbacks enter play with a two-game losing sked, and their first series lose since June 1-4 at Miami. With a 10-4 defeat Thursday afternoon to the St Louis Cardinals, the Diamondbacks dropped two of three to the Red Birds at home.
On Friday night, look for Ray (8-3, 2.87) to take on righty Jon Gray (0-0, 4.38). Coming off the disabled list with a navicular stress fracture of the left foot, Gray is making his first start for the Rox since opening day.
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For Saturday, it’s Greinke (9-3, 3.08) facing righty Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.32), and in the series, and home stand finale Sunday afternoon, right-hander Taijuan Walker (6-3, 3.50) takes on German Marquez (5-4, 4.38) as his mound opponent.
The Diamondbacks then head to So Cal and three with the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, They return immediately for three with the Cincinnati Reds in Chase Field before the All-Star break.