– 6th Season
Ray’s worst month last season was July. He went 0-2 in six starts with a 6.12 ERA in his return from a strained oblique. He rounded back into shape in August and September and looks to ride that wave into his age-27 season.
There’s not much to worry about arsenal-wise for Ray, especially now that he has completely fazed the sinker out of his game. He was a fastball/slider/curve pitcher in 2018, both of his breaking pitches suppressing opposing batting averages under .200.
The stuff is good, the task at hand will be keeping Ray healthy and efficient enough to stay on the mound. He gave up a lot of hard contact last season, and so long as his strikeout and walk rates remain high, Ray will see his fair share of four or five inning outings. That’s not ideal for a guy the Dbacks hope will grow into the ace of this staff.
Time is running out for Hazen and Lovullo to decide exactly how high the ceiling is for Ray. With one more season of arbitration eligibility, regular conversations with Ray’s representation, the Legacy Agency, should clarify the framework for an extension. If they’re not willing to engage in those talks, however, the crows will circle.
As much as the free agent market has frozen over, lefty starters are one of the few demographics earning. A strong season should secure a premium contract for Ray, whether from the Diamondbacks or elsewhere. There’s no rush to move him, but as the most valuable trade asset on the roster, Hazen and the rest of the front office will have to listen.