According to Will Kunkel of WNWO TV Toledo, Robbie Ray will be called up by the Detroit Tigers to make a spot start on Tuesday, May 6.
— Will Kunkel (@KunkelW) April 30, 2014
Anibal Sanchez was placed on the disabled list after last Saturday’s start with a laceration on his right middle finger, so the Tigers will need one or two spot starts (depending on the weather, I suppose) before he’s eligible to return. Robbie Ray, the featured return piece of the offseason’s Doug Fister trade, is apparently getting the first shot at the gig. It would be his major league debut.
Ray has made five starts thus far for AAA Toledo, compiling an impressive 1.59 ERA. That’s certainly impressive, but a slightly deeper dive into the numbers suggests that maybe he hasn’t dominated quite that much. He’s certainly been good — FanGraphs credits him with a 2.89 FIP to-date on the season — but the success has been largely due to preventing home runs and not allowing walks.
Not that either of those are bad things. The home run rate will probably regress, but it’s excellent to see the low walk rate. Small sample size and all that, but he’s tended to be slightly high with his walk rate in his (relatively) young minor league career so a “real” change in that regard would be extremely encouraging. Usually, though, when you think of a pitcher with a dominant ERA, you (I, actually) tend to think of a pitcher with an extreme strikeout rate. That hasn’t been Ray this season so far. His K-rate isn’t low low — it’s 18.9% — but it is a tick or two below the current MLB average rate (about 20%). Again, not that he’s been bad at all, but he doesn’t display the peripherals of someone who’s been filthy is all I’m saying.
Ray probably isn’t destined to come up to the bigs, dominate batters, force his way into the rotation permanently, and magically fix the bullpen all at the same time, but he probably deserves the chance to be exposed to big league hitters in big league situations. I’m not expecting greatness, but he’ll be fun to see nonetheless.