Tigers To Promote Robbie Ray

The Tigers have announced that left-handed starter Robbie Ray will be recalled and make his Major League debut against the Astros next Tuesday.


The 23-year-old Ray ranked 91st on MLB.com’s list of Top 100 prospects prior to the season and was the centerpiece to the trade that sent right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers to the Nationals this offseason (Detroit also received utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi lefty reliever Ian Krol). He’s gotten off to an excellent start to the year in Triple-A, posting a 1.59 ERA with a 21-to-5 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings of work (five starts). In their free scouting report, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com offered the following take on Ray:

“Ray throws his fastball in the low-90s and can reach back for a tick more velocity when he needs it. His slider can look slurvy at times, but the best ones have good depth. He has a good feel for his changeup, which is a more consistent offering. His command has improved, but he would benefit from further refinement. Ray is a good athlete and has proven to be durable. He relies more on pitchability than overpowering stuff to get outs, but he has what it takes to succeed as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.”

Ray’s promotion was necessitated by an injury to Anibal Sanchez, but should he impress to the point where he sticks on the roster, his promotion likely will lead him to Super Two status. If his official promotion is delayed until next Tuesday, he would accrue 148 days of Major League service time through season’s end, which would almost certainly place him within the top 22 percent of the two-to-three year service class following the 2016 campaign. That would make Ray eligible for arbitration four times, beginning after the ’16 season, and also setting him to hit free agency in the 2019-20 offseason. Of course, that schedule would change were Ray to be sent back down when Sanchez returns, which should be sometime in mid-May.

Somewhat ironically, Ray is making his Major League debut before the injured Fister has thrown a single Major League pitch for the Nationals. The trade was widely panned in the media at the time, as many felt that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski received too little for Fister, and it’s been compounded by his decision to trade Lombardozzi¬†for Alex Gonzalez, who has already been released. Ray’s development into a reliable starting option for the Tigers would greatly change that perception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

28 Responses to Tigers To Promote Robbie Ray Leave a Reply

  1. bobbleheadguru 1 year ago

    1. Ray will beat Fister by one day.

    2. Prospects are considered by pundits according to their ranking (which is done by people who are presumably NOT good enough to be on major league team payrolls), which feeds into the “it was a horrible trade” talking point.

    However, we have to understand that GMs like Dombrowski may value specific prospects more than their ranking.

    3. It does not make logical sense that Ray will be on the roster for the rest of the year. He is a starting pitcher and is needed as a primary backup in case of injury. He is not going to take any of the “big 5″ spots as it stands now.

    Assuming Sanchez gets back to 100%, Ray will be sent right back down to the minors after 1-2 starts.

    • Seamaholic 1 year ago

      The criticism of the trade actually had little to do with the trade that was actually made (who knows, Ray might be decent), and everything to do with the trade that was NOT made. All indications are that the Tigers could have gotten much more value had they shopped Fister around, which they apparently didn’t do.

      • bobbleheadguru 1 year ago

        That is the exactly the point I am making. What if Ray was at the very top of Dombrowski’s LH Starter Prospects list?

        So what that he was projected the “91th best prospect in the major leagues”? Dombrowski may value him MORE THAN the 20th best prospect. Is it better to be praised for getting “better value” (if he got, let’s say Giolito) or actually get the better player (according to his projection, not “bobblehead gurus”)?

        20+ teams passed on Trout. There were 5 full rounds of the NFL draft before Tom Brady was picked. It is not uncommon for most experts to miss on player projections.

        • misunderestimated 1 year ago

          Actually terrible analogy. Say you are at a car auction and would be willing to pay $100K for a Ferrari. However, no one else will pay more than $25K. Do you still pay $100K? No you get the car you want and then can spend the rest on other things you want. That way not only do you get to look smart for getting the undervalued asset, but you get more value elsewhere. Dombrowski failed to do this with Fister.

          • bobbleheadguru 1 year ago

            Your are making the assumption that the Nationals would just let Ray go for his “projected value” according to “experts” who are NOT good enough at projecting to even make the payrolls of any of the 30 major league teams.

            Dombrowski is usually very transparent with his logic. This case was no exception. He stated that there were only a handful of pitchers they wanted (likely all lefties), and Ray was one of them.

            Dombrowski also confirmed that Rizzo did NOT agree to the deal for several days. If it were such a sucker deal, then why didn’t Rizzo make the deal immediately?

            Much more likely that other GMs were mad that they did not get to Fister, but they did not have the player that Dombrowski wanted…. so they talked to the media after the fact which made the “conventional wisdom” = bad trade for Tigers.

            Rizzo likely sees the same thing in Ray that Dombrowski does… which is why it took him several days to convince himself to say yes.

        • Bill Smith 1 year ago

          Ray might have been at the top of his list, but if you believe what he said in his interview with Rosenthal, there were 15 prospects the Tigers wanted in return for Fister, the other 14 said no according to DD. That sounds like Ray was a “last-resort” type trade option if you ask me. We will never know what DD was really thinking, but hopefully for us Ray turns into our #2 of the future (assuming Scherzer is gone after this year).

      • NoAZPhilsPhan 1 year ago

        link to mlbtraderumors.com
        They were targeting specific players and did shop around,

      • Mr Pike 1 year ago

        Like in the nfl draft, they were a playoff team drafting for need rather than best player available. They did not need a top 25 player just to back up Cabrera, Kinsler, Iglesias, Castellanos, Avila/McCann, Jackson or Hunter.
        Left field and starter were the only possibilities.

      • John Cate 1 year ago

        Gotten more value in the opinion of the people doing the analysis. Dombrowski clearly was fully convinced that Ray was MUCH better than the 91st best prospect in baseball, badly wanted him for the Tigers, and therefore had to pay the Nationals’ asking price to acquire him. Seeing as how the guy is crushing Triple-A batters and will be called up in the first week of May, maybe he was right and everyone who panned him was wrong.

  2. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    Making his MLB debut against the Astros was smart. Could be a nice confidence booster.

    • Mario Saavedra 1 year ago

      getting beat up by the Astros could be demoralizing as well. Double-edge sword.

      • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

        True but getting beat up by any team would be demoralizing for a young pitcher, there is just less of a chance of it happening against the Astros.

        • Mario Saavedra 1 year ago

          Getting beat up by the offense #29 in baseball would be a lot more demoralizing than getting beat up by say… #17 (random number), that was my point, but I agree in the sense that is less likely to happen against them.

  3. Caleb 1 year ago

    So, Tigers gotta bump someone from the 25-man roster to make this move, right? Might be a few too many lefty relievers in the pen…

    • Stuart Brown 1 year ago

      No, but they have to bump someone from the 40-man if I remember correctly, which could potentially mean releasing one of the lefties. Coke being the obvious choice.

      Edit: They do still have to bump someone from the 25-man, but they also have to make a corresponding move with the 40-man for this to work.

    • Mr Pike 1 year ago

      They are currently carrying 8 relievers, so it is probably Ortega.

      • UK Tiger
        UK Tiger 1 year ago

        It doesnt matter if they had 12 in the pen, Phil Coke would still find a way to stick around,

  4. seenable 1 year ago

    The only way Ray sticks on the roster is if one of the five starters misses significant time due to injury. Smyly’s leash isn’t short, and the Tigers won’t forsake Ray’s development as a starter to use him in their bullpen. Two starts and he’ll be back in Toledo.

    • misunderestimated 1 year ago

      Many teams have broken in young starters via the bullpen. Kevin Gausman, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Drew Smyly are just a few off the top of my head. Even David Price got his first taste of the bigs in the pen. Might not be a bad idea especially with the terrible group comprising the Tiger’s current bullpen.

      • seenable 1 year ago

        Maybe once he has more seasoning as a starter. Ray spent the first half of last season in single-A ball. He got a rather aggressive assignment to triple-A this season. He needs more development as a starter before that possibility should be considered.

        • misunderestimated 1 year ago

          He did have half a successful season at AA and the Tigers feel he is ready enough for the challenge of facing big leaguers. Not saying they have to put Ray in the pen, just that he might be one solution to improve an absolutely brutal bullpen on a team with designs on a World Series. They really need to improve that bullpen in order to truly contend.

      • Bill Smith 1 year ago

        Tigers need him as a spot starter, so he’s not gonna be in the bullpen until they have a better option for #6 starter.

  5. Cyyoung 1 year ago

    2 years from now, people wont be saying smart move to start against the Astros.

  6. UK Tiger
    UK Tiger 1 year ago

    Like the move, hes tearing up AAA hitters, we have an opening with Anibal out, the weakest hitting team in the Majors are coming to town…it all fits.

    Couple of fill in starts at most then let him go back to Toledo for more seasoning.

    Everyones a winner.

  7. hozie007 1 year ago

    This is a 1 and done deal for now…he could through 7 innings of shut-out ball and he’ll still be sent down after the game. Tigers have 5 starters already and won’t muck up the mix any further. However, before the trade dead line in July things may change, especially if the Tiger BP continues to cash in runners.

    • Bill Smith 1 year ago

      He should make 2 starts as long as Anibal doesn’t need more than 15 days.

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