Robbie Ray

Robert Glenn Ray

Height: 6'2"    Weight: 215 lbs.

Bats/Throws: Left / Left

Born: 10/01/1991 in Brentwood, Tennessee

Offseason home: Scottsdale, Arizona

Family: Wife Taylor, sons Asher and Brady, daughter Leighton

MLB Debut: 05/06/2014

Acquired: Signed as a free agent (11/30/2021)

Free Agent after: 2026 season

Awards: AL Cy Young (2021), NL All-Star (2017), AL Pitcher of the Month (August 2021), NL Player of the Week (8/21/16), AL Player of the Week (6/5/21)

League leader: ERA (2.84, 2021), Strikeouts (248, 2021), WHIP (1.045, 2021)

Twitter handle: @RobbieRay

What happened to this guy? The best pitcher in the league in 2021, Ray has scuffled in his first Mariner season. He has just two quality starts in a dozen games thus far, has given up more earned runs that any other pitcher in the American League, and served up 14 homers already. Not exactly what the M's were hoping for when they signed him to that enormous free-agent contract. It was getting bad enough that manager Scott Servais pulled him aside and told Ray to come up with a Plan B. So in his June 6th start at Houston, Ray abandoned his previously-stellar four-seam fastball in favor of a tailing two-seam version and dropped in a few curveballs and changeups to go with his standard slider. It was fairly successful and the M's ended up winning that game. “I was pretty surprised I was able to spot it up as effectively as I did,” Ray said of the two-seamer. “I got three [scoreless innings] with it.” We'll have to wait and see if this new-arsenal (and new-look—Ray also shaved off his facial hair to shake things up) Robbie sticks around and helps him revert to dominance.

TH, 6/8/22


Prior notes

The defending American League Cy Young Award winner, new Mariner Ray takes over as the ace of the Seattle staff. Among the most notable free-agent signings in Mariner history, the 30-year-old southpaw led the AL in numerous pitching categories last year—including ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP—and was one vote shy of being the unanimous choice for that Cy Young. The question is, can he keep it going? Prior to 2021, Ray had been a solid if not spectacular starter, with just one standout season (2017) among his six full big-league campaigns. Some of that inconsistency may have been tied to mechanical changes made to accommodate various pitching coaches along the way, but after a lousy 2020 he abandoned those tweaks and went back to a windup he'd had success with as a minor-leaguer. The new/old mechanics led to much improved location control on his delivery and his walks nosedived from 4.28 per 9 innings in years prior to just 2.4 in ’21.

Ray benefitted from a certain teammate in his Arizona days, one Randall David Johnson. After beginning the ’17 season in poor form, the Big Unit came to Ray and gave the fellow lefty a push to be great. "He inevitably could be the ace of the staff," Johnson said of Ray, "a guy you could build the rotation around—I think he’s that kind of pitcher." Ray listened to RJ's pep talk. "I needed that," Ray said. "A Hall of Famer to go out of his way, take time out of his day and come talk to me and tell me [to step it up], and ‘You never know when your last pitch is going to be.’ It was eye opening."

Ray has one other Mariner connection—after being drafted by the Washington Nationals, he was traded to Detroit, where he would make his big-league debut, for ex-Seattle pitcher Doug Fister.

TH, 3/18/21