How the Mariners Can Adjust With Robbie Ray Headed to the IL

Just one day after left-hander Max Fried left his Opening Day start, fellow lefty Robbie Ray went down with an injury of his own. The 2021 AL Cy Young award winner will be out for at least the next two weeks due to a flexor strain. The good news for the Mariners, though, is that Seattle does have some depth to work with.

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A Look at Ray

The first outing of Robbie Ray‘s 2023 campaign was far from ideal. Against the Cleveland Guardians on March 31, Ray went just 3.1 IP, and he yielded four hits, five walks, and gave up five runs (three earned runs) in Seattle’s first loss of the season. The former AL Cy Young award winner has dealt with control problems in the past, and Ray looked a lot like his 2020 version.

Given the unusually rough outing for Ray, it’s not of shock to find out the left-hander is injured. Per Mariners manager Scott Servias, Ray suffered a Grade 1 left flexor strain and will be shut down for two weeks.

The 32-year-old — thanks to a devastating slider that he can play off his four-seamer and sinker — has been one of the league’s best pitchers over the past two years. Ray has struck out at least 200 batters in each of the last two seasons, and his 460 total strikeouts from 2021-22 ranked as the third-best in the league. Only Corbin Burnes (477) and Gerrit Cole (500) had more in that time span than the Mariners lefty.

What it Means

Luckily for the Mariners, Seattle does have an obvious fill-in starter in Chris Flexen. Flexen pitched four innings in relief on Friday, and the right-hander gave up one run but walked three against the Guardians. The 28-year-old has been quite effective over the past two seasons, thanks to improved command and the ability to generate weak contact in the air. He’s not a power pitcher, but he should be able to give Seattle some reliable production in a rotation that includes Luis Castillo, George Kirby, and Logan Gilbert.