The Seattle Mariners have reportedly agreed to a five-year, $115 million contract with Robbie Ray according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. At roughly $23 million a year, that’s a lot lower than I expected for the reigning AL Cy Young winner
This a huge move for the franchise and immediately provides an ace to a pitching staff that really needs the help. Ray pitched 2.84/3.69/3.36 in 2021 while striking out 32.1% of batters faced and only walking 6.7% — his career average walk rate is 10.3% and strikeout rate is 30.7%. At 30 years old, this deal is an absolute steal for someone who’s been as dominant as Ray has in his career.
What made a big difference for Ray was the decrease in his hard contact rate which was coupled with a decrease in his fly ball rate. This meant that he gave up less home runs in than in his past seasons.
Looking through his stats it was interesting to see that the 30 year old reduced his cutter usage as much as he did — in 2019 it was 15.3% and in 2021 it was 5.8%. That led to an uptick in his fastball and it appears to have made his slider more devastating for batters as he saw a slight uptick in swings generated on pitches outside of the strike zone.
What’s interesting is that Ray’s had the success that he’s had by using the middle third of the plate.
And the majority of the swings he’s generated are in the upper part of the zone.
Seattle’s rotation now has Ray as the No. 1 starter, with Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, and Logan Gilbert all signed through at least the next season. The M’s need to bring in a No. 4/5 starter to complete the rotation — even with George Kirby in the minors — but this looks like a really strong starting rotation to roll into 2022 with.
Now it’ll be good for Seattle to go out and bring in another bat or two to lengthen its line-up. The addition of Adam Frazier is great, and he adds a lot of flexibility to the roster, but bringing another second basement and/or outfielder should be at the top of general manager Jerry Dipoto’s list.
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