Before Tuesday night, Robbie Ray‘s claim to fame to the Detroit Tigers organization consisted of being part of the most “lopsided trade” during this past winter. And we aren’t talking about the worst trade for the Tigers, but rather the worst trade in all of Major League Baseball as a consensus.
In early December, weeks before St. Nick stuffed his belly down several chimneys all over the world to delivery toys to well-behaved boys and girls, Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski had secured a piece of coal by dealing right-handed veteran starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for utility player Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed relief pitcher Ian Krol and a left-handed minor league starting pitcher by the last name of Ray. That piece of coal has started to transform into a possible diamond in the rough after Tuesday nights 11-4 Tigers victory over the visiting Houston Astros.
[pullquote]You hear them talking — not to your face, but you hear them talking. You just have to push it aside, and they have to wait and see.”[/pullquote]
As Ray said about the trade that brought him to Detroit, “You hear them talking — not to your face, but you hear them talking. You just have to push it aside, and they have to wait and see.” Ray then added, “I got the sense before today they didn’t know who I was. I was glad to have their support tonight.” If Ray continues to pitch as he did in his debut, he won’t have a problem earning future support from Detroit fans.
Tuesday night Ray headed the assault on the Astros, helping Detroit to their seventh straight victory as he pitched 5.1 innings of 5 hit, 1 walk baseball, allowing only 1 earned run and striking out 5. It wasn’t all roses though for the young lefty.
In the first inning before he could even catch his breath Ray’s blood pressure started to rise. Jose Altuve‘s bloop double leading off the game coupled with a poorly ran route to first base by the young pitcher to cover on Fowler’s ground ball gave visiting Houston base runners on the corners with no one out. As he settled in and regained his composure on the mound, the Tiger’s rookie struck out both Jason Castro and Chris Carter back-to-back. That began a stint in which he recorded a total of 16 outs in 18 batters paving his way for some respect from the fans of Detroit and also earning another start as the organization waits for star right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez to return from the 15-day disabled list as he recovers from a blister.
While it is only a small sample size, expect Ray to build on his first start which looks to be a probable promising future. Ray had earned respect in the minor leagues while in the Nationals organization and now with the Tigers, covering parts of five seasons. In a total of 367.0 innings pitched, the starting pitcher has struck out 364 hitters, allowing 337 hits while putting together a 4.07 ERA. While he has been wild at times, walking 154 with a 1.338 WHIP, Ray looks like the real deal. Armed with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, effective change and decent curve, his effectiveness Tuesday night brought Dombrowski some much needed mental relaxation regarding this winters trade. The Detroit fans have quieted, at least for the time being.