Robbie Ray vs. Yordan Alvarez was part of the Mariners’ ‘plan’, but here’s why the matchup is likely to backfire.

The Seattle Mariners scored in the first inning in Game 1 of the ALDS matchup against the number one Houston Astros. He scored three goals in the second inning and took a 6-2 lead by the middle of the fourth inning. It was 7-3 through the eighth. In the ninth, he went 7-5 with two outs. However, the Mariners were still defeated. They dominated the entire game until two outs in the ninth. Even though Astros’ great attacks are slowly fading away. The Mariners still really should have won. Look at the Win Expectations Chart. It’s steep enough as you can see. Really off the cliff. What happen? Well, Astros’ attack helped load. Jordan Alvarez, the second most feared hitter after Aaron Judge, also helped. However, the Mariners’ decision was questionable. Alvarez’s finish-off home run came to starter Robbie Ray, who was summoned for relief to face Alvarez. So, why did the Mariners make this decision? Let’s break it down. Why bring Ray1? He is left handed. That’s it. Current AL Cy Young Award winner Ray has had a much tougher job with lefties throughout his career and has maintained his .212/.260/.387 line this season. He was only 137 at-bat, but allowed only four home runs to fellow lefties. If the Mariners really wanted Alvarez’s platoon advantage, it was Ray or Matthew Boyd. There are no other lefty pitchers on the roster. All of the Mariners’ best relief pitchers are right-handed. Ray started Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Blue Jays and still got calls on Tuesday. He basically hits both sides equally. Here is his career slash line: LHP: .303/.381/.582vs. RHP: .292/.386/.594 He has .321 against the Southpaw this season! If you’re interested in one-on-one history, Alvarez was 1-1 with two walks against Ray before this match. There are too few samples to really matter, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of history behind Ray’s success in getting into matchups. Why not import Ray1. He is a starting pitcher. The starting pitcher is used for a longer and longer warm-up. After all, every player is a creature of habit, so it’s always risky to get relief from a starter. Some people do it well, but you’ll never know until you try. Ray has appeared in relief only 4 times in his entire career, 3 of them coming in 2014 as a rookie and 1 in 2020. That’s all. 2. He gives up a lot of home runs. Ray finished second in the American League with 32 home runs allowed this season. He also finished fourth last year, with 33 in Cy Young. Alvarez is one of the best power hitters in baseball and exactly one play beats you. That’s a home run. 3. He hasn’t been throwing well lately. Ray posted a 5.27 ERA with eight home runs in 27.1 innings in his last five regular season starts. Then, in Game 2 of the Wildcard Series, he allowed four runs on six hits, including two home runs, in three innings. 4. Astros owned him. Ray has made three starts against the Astros this season. He gave up 23 hits and 13 ERAs (10.97 ERA, WHIP 2.81) in 10 2/3 innings. Astros’ hitters reduced .442/.509/.865 against him. small sample? I guess. But nothing encouraging here. 5. He is a fastball player. Ray throws a fastball almost 40% of the time. That’s what he most often suggests. Alvarez was the second most valuable hitter for a fastball this season (after Jersey, of course). His slugging percentage against the heater is 0.355, and his slugging percentage is .752. The home run came in the sinker, but I’m just talking about the thought process to get Ray. On the surface, there are 5 good reasons not to use Ray. It was natural to avoid pulling the trigger while on the move. “We were talking about going into a series,” Mariners manager Scott Surby said after the game. He said, “We talked before the game today. I saw it in the 7th and said, ‘This can happen.'” So the planning began. After all, you have a plan. We still have to do it.” True, it was a plan and they should have executed the plan better. But it’s pretty easy to argue that it was a bad plan.
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