The Nationals have several spots to fill, a solid chunk of money to possibly do it with and lots of quality options to choose from.
The free agent list this year is not about superstar names. Rather, it’s about depth and quality. Even the second tier of free agents holds value, especially if their contracts are brief and costs suppressed by a mediocre market.
All week, we’re going to take a look at individuals who could fit in different places for the Nationals. Here’s a look at former Arizona and Toronto pitcher Robbie Ray.
What he does well: Strikes people out. This is Ray’s key feature and why he makes advanced analytics folks salivate at times. They, and others, see Ray on the cusp of huge seasons. Though, those are yet to materialize. Ray has a higher strikeout rate than Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer for his career. He uses a fastball, curveball, slider mix.
Where he fits with the Nationals: The Nationals need a fourth starter, which is precisely the status of Ray seven years into his career. He’s a fourth starter awash with potential to be among the better pitchers in the league if he does two things. First, his command simply has to be better. His walk rate constantly undoes his high strikeout rate. Second, when batters do make contact against Ray, they tend to produce hard-hit balls. Each time he’s pitched at least 150 innings, he’s allowed 23 home runs or more. But he remains enticing enough to end up at the back of a rotation with that possible breakout season looming.
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