Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray will undergo flexor tendon repair surgery, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Ray will not be able to return this season. The lefty had already been on the 15-day injured list due to a flexor strain but Divish adds that further testing revealed damage in a different area of the tendon.
The news is obviously terrible for both Ray and the Mariners, as he was a key part of the club’s plans for this year. After an up-and-down career with the Tigers and Diamondbacks, Ray stabilized himself in tremendous fashion with the Blue Jays in 2021. He had always had tremendous strikeout ability but struggled with command, walking 11% of batters he faced in his career by the end of the 2020 campaign. But the 2021 season saw him whittle that down to 6.7% while still getting punchouts at an incredible 32.1% clip. He finished the season with a 2.84 ERA and was awarded the American League Cy Young.
That breakout was perfectly timed, as he went into free agency immediately after, signing a five-year, $115MM deal with the Mariners with an opt-out after the third season. Last year, he naturally regressed from his incredible heights of the year before, but still had a solid year with Seattle. He made 32 starts and posted a 3.71 ERA, striking out 27.4% of opponents while walking 8%. That helped the club break their postseason drought, as they qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Unfortunately, 2023 season will now go down as a total loss, effectively. Ray made one start of just 3 1/3 innings before landing on the injured list and that will now be his entire tally for the year.
The Mariners have had six viable starters since their deadline acquisition of Luis Castillo last year, which bumped Chris Flexen into the bullpen. With Castillo, Ray, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert and Marco Gonzales set to be in the front five spots, it had been speculated by many that perhaps the club would look to trade Flexen in order to improve another area of the roster. In the end, they kept all six hurlers, a decision which now seems wise in the wake of Ray’s injury. Flexen has struggled so far this year, currently sporting an 8.86 ERA, but was plenty effective for the M’s in the two prior seasons.
This won’t impact the Mariners in the short term as they were already operating without Ray, but this will have a huge impact on their long-term plans now that a return of Ray later in the year is off the table. They have depth options on the 40-man such as Darren McCaughan, José Rodríguez and Easton McGee, but Divish relays word from manager Scott Servais that the club is re-evaluating their pitching depth in the wake of this news. The last time they needed a spot start, veteran journeyman Tommy Milone was given the nod.
Finding external pitching options at this time of the year can be tough as most teams are dealing with injuries of their own and few have decided to press the sell button so early. The free agents that are unsigned are usually still available because they haven’t been effective in a while. That’s certainly the case for Madison Bumgarner, who was just released by the Diamondbacks today, joining pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Chris Archer on the open market.
The Mariners are currently 11-12 and in fourth place in the American League West, though they are by no means buried with just 2.5 games separating them and the division-leading Rangers. There’s still plenty of time for them to gain ground, but they will now have to do so without any contributions from their player making the highest salary this year.
Horrible blow to the M’s. Good thing they have a strong farm.
Sarcasm or they have a good mlb ready pitching prospect I am missing?
I know they have some great arms in AA. Just ? If they are ready and built up.
The M’s have 4 SP’s prospects in their AA rotation who could pitch in the Big League Rotation this year: Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock, Bryan Woo and Taylor Dollard. My money is on Woo
I love Mariners! I hate injuries, but… this improves odds of FINALLY getting October Trout! Sorry Seattle. We have love for you, but did I mention Ohtani October with a helping of Trout!
Ray was seen by many as the 4th best pitcher in the rotation entering the season. Don’t think he’s going to be as big of a loss as many feel.
In Flexen’s 4 starts since replacing Ray in the rotation:
0-4, 17.1 IP, 10.53 ERA
Nah, probably won’t miss Ray at all.
Dream ON isn’t just the name of a HBO series.
Loosing Ray is the death blow to the Mariners season! Rodriguez has come back to earth and their relief pitching has dropped a notch along with a starting staff and lineup that is just slightly above average! Making the playoffs is going to be tuff with the Rangers and Angels dramatically better! RIP Mariner fans!
When did the Angels get dramatically better?
Let me help u out. Urshella, Renfro, Drury, Estevez, and Moore. All 5 additions looking solid.
It sucks thou losing players for the year. My Angels lost one to in O’Hoppe. You can’t have to many of those, and it not effect your chances. You can get by with a few of those 2 to 4 week injuries thou. But both teams should be fine, if this is as bad as it gets.
He’s the one being dramatic.
You forgot Quijada. He’s had one bad outing, but was lights out before that.
I wouldn’t have put Drury in that list of good pickups, but the guy appears to have woken up in the last week or so.
As long as Nevin minimizes the use of Loup, Wantz and Herget, the bullpen should be decent — I spent a little time on Tues going over the bullpen stats, and those are the three that have done the worst at keeping inherited runners from scoring. My previous worry about Moore was completely unfounded as someone had called me out on.
One thing that needs to be done is swapping Suarez for Davidson. Honestly can’t imagine Davidson would do any worse. Barria is doing well in the bullpen and should be kept there, and I think Silseth should remain in the bullpen for the meantime.
One has to wonder if this injury went back to his dreadful postseason last year?
Or perhaps it was the extra work he did trying to utilize a new pitch in the offseason. Frankly the bitter cold weather in his first (and only start) had more to do with his injury than the 4 or 5 innings he pitched in the playoffs.
Its possible. The jays really got lucky that he took thes Ms offer and not theres. Imagine the jays with no Gausman, Ray and Ryu. Trent Thornton and Drew Hutchinson in there rotation instead
Back in the day we called that a harsh toke. Sympathy to Seattle…
You all knew it was in process. Win a Cy Young and within 2 years you’ll be on the table.
He was clearly straining through his max effort delivery in 2021. The results were often strong, but he clearly looked like a guy shooting to get a big deal at year’s end by giving everything he could to blow guys away.
Only surprise is that he avoided surgical repair this long. Seems to be a guy with great pain tolerance, but I’m not sure his pedal to the metal drive served his health well enough that the recovery on this may not end up as smooth as others’.
Some guys make surprising comebacks, but this case would be surprising if he gets back to all-star form — nevermind Cy Young form — ever again.
Throwing a forkball / split finger puts a lot of excess stress on the forearm and elbow. That is a main reason why you don’t see many young players throwing it… most young arms are not developed / strong enough to consistently throw it well.. I am sure M’s coaches thought Ray’s arm was strong enough… BUT THEY WERE WRONG.
They better be monitoring Gilbert closer than they watched Ray.
Good thing we kept our pitching depth (although Flexen’s struggled so far this season).
They’re not using Flex properly. He’s decent when you stick him in the rotation and leave him alone, but he not really a swing guy that bounces from rotation to bullpen. Personally, I would have kept him and dealt Marco Gonzales for either prospects or bullpen help.
I wouldn’t say he’s really “bounced” between SP/RP. He was moved out of the rotation when we traded for Castillo and suddenly had a surplus of SP, excelled as a reliever, and when our surplus shrank was moved back to SP. I don’t expect he’ll be touched unless we don’t suffer any more rotation injuries or he continues to struggle…in which case he could be replaced with Miller, Hancock, or Dollard.
You realize Marco has been good, right?
Flexen only made one long-relief appearance (relieving Ray) before sliding right back into the rotation on the same amount of rest.
I hope Flexen’s flexor is in good shape.
Flex is fine. I’ve seen the same Flex as always just maybe a little bit off in the command department. But he’s still competing like a mother every single at bat. The stuff looks the same. He’s never had great or even very good stuff: he’s just a pitcher. Good hitting teams will tattoo him every once in while, he’s just one of those guys
I’m not worried about him either, just pointing out the caveat.
His cutter is his one plus pitch and it’s been awful this year. Instead of commanding it on the corners, it has been catching too much of the plate and has been hammered.
Yup, when the cutter isn’t cutting he’s gonna get rocked. The M’s took away his curveball this off-season as well, which he rarely threw; but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him work that thing back in occasionally. IMO, the more pitches in the arsenal for him the better.
But they seem intent on making him a 4 seam/cutter/slider guy with the Change up sprinkled in, at least early on this year.
Although, he hasn’t gotten himself into as many good counts as you like, and thus the slider is his least used pitch so far. He’s gotta get ahead with that 4 seam/cutter string; then he can PULL the string with a very decent change up and slider when he’s ahead. It’s a very simple formula that he’s usually pretty consistent with.
This is really crappy news. Ray was looking really good this spring too and added a split to his pitch selection.
Great in Spring Training
Don’t like not seeing people’s best. Seattle is better equipped to handle this than most teams, ncluding my rangers. Houston will figure it out in a minute, but looking forward to the Seattle and hopefully Texas runs at the WC
I don’t see more than to teams coming out of West for Postseason. From look of it 3 likely coming from AL East
Yea Houston a given, Seattle fairly likely, Texas somewhat likely, LAA an outside shot. Yes likely 2 is all, but that’s a long way and a lot of guess work away
Flexor tendon surgery? I wonder if this will ultimately increase the chances he won’t need TJS?
The result is still the same: Out for the season. This is really a tough blow. I’m hoping the M’s and O’s will make it at least to WC. Hey, when your team is the White Sox, you have to have someone to cheer for.
@Avenger, the same for 2023, meaning he’ll miss the remainder of the season. Reported recovery time on a flexor tendon surgery is more in the six month range, so he’ll be back in 2024. If he had TJS, he would miss a significant portion of 2024, if not all of the season, based on a recovery time of 14-16 months.
Bad either way. TJS, however, would be worse. My concern is he’ll have flexor tendon surgery, and then we’ll find out he also needs TJS in 2024!
Bart Harley Jarvis
I just had flexor tendon surgery. I’m hoping to be back in six months, but I’m in my early 60s. Robbie Ray might bounce back more quickly.
I asked my surgeon if I’ll still be able to throw my slider on the outside corner, and he said, “Only if you’re ahead in the count.”
Tough blow for the M’s. This is where having “Trader Jerry” comes in handy
Dipoto must have a good reputation and the trust of other GMs, because many of his deals come together quickly and you rarely hear leaks about his deals beforehand.
There’s a good and bad side to that. Dipoto tends to take the FIRST deal that comes around rather than the BEST deal. There’s an old adage that “a good decision today is better than a perfect decision tomorrow”, but given that this is a spot that needs to be filled for the rest of the season, Dipoto needs to take his time and make sure he gets the right starter to fill it.
Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. Pretty much worse case scenario. They got anybody in the minors worth adding?
RH pitcher Hancock is said to be a STUD. I’ve heard so called experts say he will soon be up.
He gave up 9 earned runs in 3 innings his last outing. He was shaky in his second outing as well. You might want to ask yourself who these ‘experts’ are.
He starts again tonight.
And for the record, I really like Hancock. I simply think he will see considerably more minor league starts before Seattle asks him to start.
McCaughan or Milone are probably the most likely starters to take Flexen’s place if they make a change within the next week or so.
Long term, Woo has easily been the most consistent and dominant of the Mariner starter prospects and could be a June call-up.. Miller’s first 3 starts didn’t go so well, but he was solid in his 4th outing.
Hopefully Flexen will get it together quickly, as the next month could get a bit rough otherwise.
He can use more time but they might not have that luxury. Lots of arm and potential. Don’t know who they go to after him if needed. Hope for good health and get some insurance at deadline.
Hancock is a STUD?
Must have a big hand.
“Hancock is a stud”…Admittedly, I don’t have time to watch much minor league baseball, but you don’t get drafted top ten(#6 overall in 2020) without many people feeling you are an excellent pitcher/player.. Two months before the ’20 draft there was talk of him going #1 overall.
His scouting report suggests he has 3 plus pitches(60 grade) with a FB touching mid to high 90’s.. He IS the M’s #2 prospect after all, not exactly chopped liver.
Mark Appel would disagree mlbfan.
Mark Appel was considered the #1 High school or college pitcher In the country. MANY, many, MANY scouts/GMs thought he would be an EXCELLENT pro. There IS a reason he was drafted #1 overall. Not all selections work out, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t highly rated or well received by scouts/GMs.
Definitely a bummer, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to end up being too big of a blow. Flexen/maybe Hancock can man the #5 spot just fine down the stretch. We still have a great 1-4. We still have the ability to add another guy.
Good thing Jerry didn’t trade anyone from the great depth the Mariners had in starters, you can never have enough good pitching. Honestly your team is going to be fine, I would avoid Keuchel, seeing him on the White Sox these few seasons, no one should be tortured by having him on their team.
I’ll put you at 3 good starters. Marko has started off pretty good, but most good hitting teams would be licking there chops, wanting to feast off that guy.
Marco is criminally underrated. Absolutely a “back of the rotation” type guy, but since 2018 he’s only had one season over 4.00 ERA. Soft stuff but a nice repertoire and he is as competitive as any pitcher in the league. Love Marco! Every good team has a Marco.
Paging Blake snell
Please call Woo, Miller, or Hancock up I can’t watch Flexen start another game.
Must be the pants
Also, I am sorry this happened to him
Kevin Gausman says hi.
Hugh contracts always a risk, and especially for pitchers. They don’t hit the mound but once every 5 days and frequently injured.
I wonder how much of his contract is insured…
Giolito can be had as a rental. WSox are toast incredibly early. They would be pleased to shed salary/get prospect in the vicinity of QO value comp pick (nothing great) since ’24 FA starter market is pretty light.
Did Milone accept the AAA assignment? He did really well in his one start.
Milone would accept a used overcoat and a bowl of white beans.
White Sox will be dumping some pitchers soon, we will gladly trade TA, Grandal, and a pitcher for Crawford,a catcher, and lefty bat.
Best Screenname Ever
I’ll never forget this Toronto fan when his team signed Kevin Gausman.
This why the Jays will never win a WS. How can they pay Gausman the same amount or even slightly more rather than offering this to Ray who became a Cy winner with us !!!!
I really hope Gausman turns out the way that they live for the rest of their live’s regretting it. What a hunch of idiots !
Was thinking about this as well. As a Jays fan I was quietly hoping at the time they wouldn’t sign Ray long term. When they signed Gausman I was ecstatic but kept quiet because I knew I was in the minority and would be deemed an idiot.
you weren’t an idiot. I was happy they didn’t sign Ray. Don’t get me wrong his Cy Young season was awesome but his previous track record showed nowhere near the dominance he showed in his CY Young season. Perfect timing to cash in on a big contract and I was glad the Jays didn’t get him. Gausman has been so much better.
Give Ureña a shot. It’ll take several weeks to get Archer or Keuchel MLB ready and Bumgardner needs a couple months of therapy before getting on a big league mound
Madbum is headed to the NW
Motor City Beach Bum
Time to call the Tigers about Eduardo Rodriguez Price will go up at the deadline.
Please get rid of Wong, might do better with no second baseman and 8 batters.
What’s Wong with you?
I look at this as more of an opportunity. The season is still early, plenty of upstarts around just needing to get a start.
Tastes Like Chicken
Yordan Alvarez will miss Robbie tight pants.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Hooray for the Mariners backup plan- good thing they kept Flexen as a 6th starter. If all goes well, Ms fans may in fact go from hooray to who Ray?
I think Ray would have better served in the pen. He has a good strikeout pitch but his control is not good, as in good enough I’m picky.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Instead of the pen, he’ll be in the pokey, sadly
Whose going to jail now?
Dumpster Divin Theo
Ironically it’ll be Flexen replacing the Flexor
Flexen is horrible
Everyday it seems you hear a player is out for the year.So many injuries just devastating teams.Only good thing is an opportunity for a player from minors to get a chance to shine.
I wasn’t too sure about the Blue jays picking Gausman over Ray that offseason. Quite the different directions each of those deals have gone so far.
Major blow to a team in a tight division.
Could you imagine a rotation with Archer,Keuchel and Bumgarner like 5-6 years ago??
Rumor has it…the Alvarez homerun ball from the ALCS hasn’t landed yet.
deGrom Texas Ranger
It sucks, but at least they didn’t just get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
I’m not a doctor, but I’m wondering at what point this becomes a UCL issue.
Eduardo Rodriguez becomes more valuable every week. At some point, the Tigers need to unload him.
I’m not a doctor, but in 2021 Ray pitched a career high in innings, strike outs, quality starts and innings pitched per start… His four seamer went from 94MPH down to 92 this year.