Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow is still searching to fill the hole in the Astros starting rotation. Arizona Diamondback’s Robbie Ray may be one of his targets.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Houston Astros, along with the Phillies, “are very interested” in starting pitcher Robbie Ray in a possible trade with Arizona. Ray could fill one of the two slots open behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh.
Robbie Ray, 27, is expected to earn around the $6 million range in 2019 following arbitration and would be under team control through 2020. That would be considered a bargain when comparing to other players that have been in the rumor mill, namely Corey Kluber.
Ray’s best season was 2017 when he finished the season with a 15-5 record and posted an ERA of 2.89. He represented the Diamondbacks in the All-Star Game that season and was 7th in the Cy Young Award voting.
The left-handed pitcher is known for his ability to rack up the strikeouts. Ray accumulated 218 SOs in both 2017-18, leading the league with a 12.1 SO/9 innings in 2017 and following that up with a 12.0 SO/9 last season. Although his walk rate went up significantly in 2018 to 5.1 BB/9 from a 3.9 BB/9 in 2017.
Ray did see his performance numbers drop in 2018, but that may have been due to an oblique strain he suffered in late April. He was placed on the DL and missed most of June. In his return, his ERA for July was 6.28, that dropped to 3.30 for the month of August, and 2.28 for September.
Once he gained back his strength and confidence, Ray became the same pitcher he was in that All-Star season of 2017. If it can be assumed that Ray is that same pitcher he was in 2017 and the latter half of 2018, the Astros would be getting a steal for that salary range. With Brent Strom‘s coaching abilities and the use of Houston’s analytical department, who knows what Rays ceiling could be.