5:44PM: Ray suffered a Grade 1 strain, Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters (including MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer). The team’s plan is to shut Ray down for two weeks and then re-evaluate after that period of daily treatment. Ray told media that he began to develop some flexor pain during the second inning of yesterday’s game.
3:24PM: Left-hander Robbie Ray has been placed on the Mariners’ 15-day injured list due to a left flexor strain. Southpaw Gabe Speier was called up from Triple-A to take Ray’s spot on the active roster.
Ray made his season debut last night and only lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits and five walks. Even with Ray’s history of control issues, the five walks is probably the biggest indicator that something wasn’t quite right with Ray, and he threw 91 pitches over his 3 1/3 frames of work. The Mariners have yet to publicly comment on the severity of Ray’s injury or a possible return timeline, but it would certainly seem like he’ll miss more than the minimum 15 days just out of pure caution in dealing with injuries in the forearm or elbow area.
After Ray won the AL Cy Young Award as a member of the Blue Jays in 2021, Seattle inked him to a five-year, $115MM free agent contract in the following offseason. Ray’s first season as a Mariner wasn’t up to the level of his 2021 performance but it was still solid, as the southpaw posted a 3.71 ERA, 27.4% strikeout rate, and a slightly below-average 8% walk rate. Ray continued to allow a lot of hard contact, but that has been the norm throughout his MLB career.
Just three days into the 2023 season, the Mariners have already had to deal a notable rotation injury, after getting through 2022 with a remarkable run of health from its starters. While the M’s have four off-days between today and April 25, the construction of their schedule means they will need a fifth starter in Ray’s absence, though Seattle has a very qualified replacement in Chris Flexen. Trade rumors swirled around Flexen (and Marco Gonzales) for much of the offseason, though the Mariners’ decision to hang onto their starting depth is now looking wise in hindsight, especially if Ray is facing any kind of extended absence.
Speier is now set to make his first appearance in a Seattle uniform, after being claimed off waivers from the Royals last November. Speier is also the only left-handed pitcher in a bullpen stacked with right-handed relievers, so Speier’s inclusion will add some balance to the relief mix. A veteran of four MLB seasons, Speier has a 3.83 ERA over 40 career innings with the Royals, appearing in rather sporadic fashion for Kansas City since making his debut in the Show in 2019.