If fantasy baseball pitchers were measured just in terms of strikeout rate, Robbie Ray might be among the first arms taken in drafts. He finished last season with an 11.3 K/9, which ranked second in the majors. Ray struck out 10 or more batters four times. Ray often racked up the strikeouts only to surround them with mediocre overall stats. Walks have been a big part of the issue. Ray walked 3.7 hitters per nine innings last season, which is in line with his career 3.6 BB/9. Ray's propensity for issuing free passes offsets his ability to miss bats and helps explain his 1.45 career WHIP. If -- and this is a big if -- Ray could cut down on the walks, he'd likely take off and post stellar fantasy numbers. Even if he does not improve upon last season's ratios, the strikeouts alone make him a solid middle-round investment in mixed leagues, and he should be particularly appealing for owners looking to supplement a low-ratios/middling-strikeouts starter taken ahead of him in drafts.
Ray has been working on his secondary pitches this offseason in addition to seeking ways to become more economical on the mound, the Arizona Republic reports. While Ray racked up 218 strikeouts in 174.1 innings last season, he struggled with walks, which paired with a high batting average on balls in play fueled by a mix of hard contact and a subpar defense behind him translated to a 4.90 ERA. A healthy A.J. Pollock in center field should help the D-backs defense in 2017, but Ray's adjustments, which might include a more consistent third pitch to complement his fastball and slider, will likely go further in determining whether he can take another step forward this season.
Ray (8-15) gave up five runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three over 4.2 innings in a loss to the Nationals on Thursday. After posting a 2.70 ERA and 38:9 K:BB in August, Ray seemed to wear down a bit over the season's final month. He allowed 26 runs on 32 hits (including six homers) in 29.1 September innings, dropping three of four decisions. Walks were once a problem throughout 2016 but Ray missed bats at a great clip (28.6 percent strikeout rate), with the peripherals suggesting he was significantly better than the surface numbers would indicate -- coming into Thursday's outing he ranked fourth among all qualifiers in xFIP. He will have appeal in the middle rounds of mixed-league drafts next spring.
Ray (8-14) allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits, struck out five and walked four over 3.2 innings in a loss to the Orioles on Saturday. The lead-off hitter reached base in three of the four innings Ray pitched in, and all three of those runners scored. To begin the fourth, he tossed up a homer to Trey Mancini. Ray has allowed a home run in four straight starts and 22 homers this season. He now owns a 4.77 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 215 strikeouts in 169.2 innings. Ray will make his final start of the year on Thursday against Washington.
Ray took a no-decision after allowing five runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings during Sunday's 10-9 victory over the Dodgers. Ray was cruising until the sixth, at which point he and Arizona's bullpen allowed six runs to score, knotting the game at 7-7. Sunday's start was a microcosm of the 24-year-old's season, which has produced occasionally dominant but inconsistent results. He's racked up 210 strikeouts in 166 innings, for instance, but holds a 4.66 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. The lefty will look to exploit a strikeout-prone Orioles offense at Camden Yards on Saturday.
Ray (8-13) allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over five innings in a win Tuesday over the Rockies. Ray continues to be a strikeout machine. He went over 200 strikeouts with just 160.1 innings pitched thanks to Tuesday's performance, the 16th time he has struck out at least seven batters. However, he also served up his 20th home run, the main reason he has an underwhelming 4.55 ERA despite his nastiness. His peripherals suggest he can be better, but for now, Ray is too inconsistent to be a star despite his excellent strikeout ability.