TODAY: Ray has officially been placed on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. Reliever Silvino Bracho has been called up to replace him on the active roster.
The diagnosis is a grade two strain for Ray, as Zach Buchanan of The Athletic was among those to tweet. There’s still quite a lot of potential variability in the amount of time Ray could miss, but that portends a fairly lengthy stint on ice. Southpaw starter Tyler Skaggs, for instance, suffered a similar injury almost exactly one year ago, and did not return until early August of 2017.
YESTERDAY: Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray departed his start against the Nationals on Sunday with a strained right oblique, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was among those to report. Ray exited after 1 1/3 innings and 21 pitches.
Given what we know about oblique strains, it seems like a strong bet that Ray will head to the disabled list in short order. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss, though this injury often sidelines players for several weeks. As Zach Buchanan of The Athletic notes, Diamondbacks reliever Randall Delgado has been out since the beginning of spring training with an oblique strain.
An extended absence for Ray would leave the D-backs without two members of their season-opening rotation, as righty Taijuan Walker recently succumbed to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. While Ray’s injury isn’t nearly that catastrophic, it may nonetheless deprive the D-backs of one of the game’s premier strikeout artists for a while. The 26-year-old has averaged a ridiculous 14.64 strikeouts per nine across 26 1/3 innings this season, though he has somewhat offset that with an untenable walk rate (5.53 BB/9). Ray has also induced grounders at only a 32.2 percent clip, which has helped lead to a high home run-to-fly ball rate (19.2 percent) and a bloated ERA (4.88). He managed a stingy 2.89 ERA over 162 innings last year, when his walk, grounder and homer numbers were significantly better.
Even though Ray’s run prevention hasn’t been in top form yet, the D-backs still managed to win four of his five starts prior to Sunday. After unexpectedly clinching a playoff spot last year, Arizona has raced to a 19-7 mark and a five-game lead in the NL West early in 2018. But the Diamondbacks’ starting depth, which was a question mark entering the season, is being put to the test.
Should Ray miss time, the D-backs could turn to either Braden Shipley or Troy Scribner – two Triple-A hurlers on their 40-man roster – to join Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin and Matt Koch in their rotation. The club doesn’t have any other healthy depth starters on its 40-man, though veteran Kris Medlen is on hand at Triple-A. Medlen hasn’t been effective this year, however, with a 6.00 ERA/5.91 FIP in 18 innings (four starts).