'Stud' Ray adapts, fools Padres with offspeed

Left-hander has posted 0.30 ERA over his past four starts

June 7th, 2017

PHOENIX -- paused for the briefest of moments before finding just the right way to describe the way D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray has pitched over his last four starts.

"He's a stud, man," said Lamb, who drove in four runs to support Ray in a 10-2 win over the Padres on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

Ray (6-3) allowed one run on three hits, while striking out 11, in 6 2/3 innings to win his fourth straight start. In that stretch, he has allowed just one run in 30 1/3 innings for a 0.30 ERA.

"He's locating his fastball, getting ahead, his secondary [stuff] is unreal," Lamb said. "I mean, he's got to be one of the best pitchers in the game, as far as his past few starts. He's lights out."

Ray's scoreless-innings streak ended at 27 2/3 when homered with two outs in the fourth. It was the third longest in D-backs history behind Brandon Webb, who had streaks of 42 and 30.

"It's as good as I've seen, and I've been around some pretty outstanding pitchers," manager Torey Lovullo said. "I just feel like he's been locked in. When you're doing something for that long a period of time, it's starting to become more of a tendency, and you're starting to establish yourself at a different level."

In his previous outing against the Pirates, Ray got 16 swinging strikes on his fastball. Against the Padres, Ray threw more offspeed pitches, with 47 of his 108 being curveballs and sliders. The lefty got 12 called strikes on the curve.

"This is a fastball-hitting team," Ray said of the Padres. "They've got a lot of guys that can swing it and hit the fastball, so I threw more offspeed than I normally do. [The curve] keeps guys off my fastball, and I can bury it when I need to, so it's been a big pitch for me."

Ray's biggest adjustment prior to his impressive four-start stretch was picking up his tempo on the mound. He's been getting the ball back from the catcher, getting right back on the rubber, receiving the sign and throwing it.

In addition, Ray increased how quickly his step back is in his windup. The two changes have paid off.

"There's fearlessness in what he's doing," Lovullo said. "There's fearlessness in the days leading up to his starts, there's fearlessness in his pregame, there's fearlessness in the execution of all his pitches. I can tell by walking around him the day of his start, I can tell by walking around him the day after, that there is a plan that he's following. It's about going out and executing everything that he possibly can in preparation for that start day."