Arizona Diamondbacks: Ray could start ASG for National League
By Mark Brown
Lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks could be on track to start the All-Star game.
As well lefty Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks has pitched this season, the wheels seem to come loose in recent starts. Though there may not be concern at this point, Ray still remains on target to have a break-out season.
That could include placement on the National League All-Star team and a possible start in the mid-summer classic. If anything, Ray’s schedule is aligned with a potential All-Star game start.
Having dropped his first game in nearly two months, a 6-3 decision to the Colorado Rockies before 23,275 in Chase Field Friday night, Ray is likely to first to recognize things have slightly derailed. With his pitch count at 122, and the highest for an Arizona starter since Trevor Cahill tossed 126 on Sept. 29, 2012 and the most by a lefty since Doug Davis (124) on July 29, 2008 at San Diego, Ray seemed to turn the clock back to last season.
That’s when the native of Brentwood, Tenn was plagued by high pitch counts and poor results. Plus, his five walks against the Rockies Friday night was the fourth straight game in which he walked four or more hitters in a game. Afterward, Ray’s body language seem to exhibit an anguish clearly displayed and he explained to Venom Strikes that some of the calls from home plate umpire Jerry Layne were marginal at best.
"“I thought I threw the ball well, but not getting the close pitches,” he said. “I got behind in counts and paid for it. I felt I was right around the zone and really, really close to the strike zone.”"
Coming into this start, Ray was 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last eight starts. With the defeat, he drops to 8-4 and his ERA for the season now stands at 3.06.
Still, this latest bump in the road should not tarnish an already strong first half. With his start Friday night, Ray is slated to go next Thursday night in Dodger Stadium against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. What could open the door for Ray as the potential All-Star game starter for the National League is the pitching schedules of both Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. One of these three, Ray, Kershaw or Scherzer could get the start.
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Kershaw is scheduled to open an important three-game series against the Diamondbacks next Tuesday night in Dodger Stadium. If he does that, then Kershaw’s next turn would be Sunday July 9 at home against the Kansas City Royals. By rule, if a starter starts the Sunday before the All-Star game, he is ineligible to start the All-Star game, and thus Kershaw could not start July 11 in Miami.
For Scherzer, he is slated to pitch Sunday night in St Louis and then come back on Friday July 7 at home against the Atlanta Braves.
That would set up Scherzer or Ray to start for the National League. Toss Arizona starter Zack Grienke in this mix as well. Should Greinke pick up his 10th win of the season Saturday against the Rockies, he would be the second pitcher in the National League to reach double-digits in wins. Kershaw is already 12-2 and Scherzer, with his start Sunday, is 9-5.
A strong fourth candidate to start is lefty Alex Wood of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wood is having a career season and picked up his ninth win of the season Friday night. For 2017, Wood remains perfect at 9-0 and a sparkling 1.83 ERA.
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In the end, the decision who starts will be an amalgam of input from different sources and then Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon, who will manage the National League, will make the final decision.