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Blue Jays riding Robbie Ray’s dominance on wild run to wild-card spot

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Ross Stripling has had an up-close view of the most effective pitchers of his technology, so when the Blue Jays right-hander compares Dodgers nice Clayton Kershaw to his present teammate Robbie Ray, it is likely to be price tuning in.

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The ace of the Jays employees, who’s lined as much as pitch three extra regular-season video games starting with Monday’s begin in opposition to the Rays in St. Pete, Fla., has been dominant by a lot of the 2021 season and is one in every of baseball’s breakthrough tales.

Not solely that, Ray will take to the mound on the Trop because the surging favorite for the American League Cy Younger Award, particularly after his prime rival — the Yankees Gerrit Cole — was rocked for 10 hits and 7 runs in 5.2 innings in opposition to Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.

To Stripling, Ray appears rather a lot like a adorned lefty he shared the Dodgers uniform with in Los Angeles.

“To me, he’s type of doing the Clayton Kershaw factor,” Stripling stated in an interview on Sunday previous to the ultimate recreation of the Jays penultimate residence stand. “That’s fastball center in to righties, slider performs off of that. You begin in the identical spot and also you tunnel that.

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“The fastball will get on you and the slider goes for 59 toes earlier than it breaks down and in and he’s simply beating guys to that spot. Clayton did that for 10 years and gained three Cy Youngs doing that.”

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Kershaw’s brilliance led the Dodgers to a number of NL West titles, so Ray has some work to do to finish the comparability.

However the influence the 29-year-old has had on the Jays has been large in taking the workforce to post-season rivalry. Now with Hyun-Jin Ryu on the shelf with a neck ailment, there’s much more urgency for the southpaw to proceed to ship.

Ray will make his thirtieth begin of the season on Monday coming off of an outing in opposition to these similar Rays wherein he struck out 10 and allowed simply 4 hits and one run in seven innings. His 10 video games of double-digit strikeouts are probably the most within the majors and a complete rebuild from his walk-too-many current previous.

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That work has made him simply probably the most dependable arm on the Jays employees, a formidable pressure who has introduced stability to all features of the sport.

“At the beginning, his efficiency speaks for itself,” common supervisor Ross Atkins stated of Ray in an interview on Sunday. “It’s the reliability, dependability of close to dominance that basically is often what it takes for a workforce to get into the playoffs.

“Having a performer like that, I can’t say sufficient about what it means. It’s a big cause why we’re within the place we’re at the moment.”

The Jays are quietly happy with how the schedule figures to unfold for Ray in his remaining begins. After Monday, he’ll tackle the Twins on Saturday in Minneapolis earlier than dealing with the Yankees within the finale of a three-game collection on the Rogers Centre the next Thursday.

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If all goes in line with plan, the southpaw would get the ball for the AL wild-card contest on Oct. 5. If you wish to overdose on optimism, Ray would once more be obtainable for Recreation 3 of an ALDS collection ought to the Jays’ run actually collect momentum.

Again to the current, Stripling has seen what most have in Ray currently — and that’s killer stuff. In his most up-to-date begin, Tampa Bay hitters have been exiting the batters’ field laughing on the elegant stuff they have been close to powerless to hit.

“They have been simply defeated,” Stripling stated. “He’s completed that to the Rays all yr and that offers you lots of confidence as a pitcher. Whenever you’ve had some success in opposition to them and also you see see a response like that, it’s like you might be on Cloud 9. You’ll be able to simply heave it in there and guys don’t have any likelihood.”

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Off the mound, Ray has been a constructive affect on a rotation that has primarily been upended for the reason that begin of the season. His precision, mixed with Alek Manoah’s emergence as a bull of the beginning employees, have dealt with a lot of the heavy lifting for the reason that all-star break.

“Each time I take into consideration Robbie Ray, I take into consideration his influence on others and the way constant he’s been as a teammate,” Atkins stated. “Others actually look as much as him and recognize his competitiveness and professionalism.

“It’s clear he’s embracing the problem and the second in a very skilled approach.”

What has struck Atkins specifically is Ray’s continued ascent since he was first acquired on the 2020 commerce deadline after which re-signed to a one-year, $8-million US deal within the low season.

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“I’ve been extra impressed with the how his trajectory has continued to get higher from the day he got here right here till at the moment,” Atkins stated. “It’s nearly like he’s stayed on a gradual climb of enchancment. It’s like each trip, it looks like he’s just a little bit higher.”

To go from a person struggling to search out the strike zone to a Ok machine has been a large transformation for a primarily fastball-slider pitcher who is aware of find out how to get the very best out of his arsenal.

“How do you go from a struggling, five-walks-a-game man to now 10 strikeouts a recreation and one or much less walks a recreation more often than not?” Stripling stated. “I’ve been watching him for a very long time. Robbie has the type of stuff — the deception and the ability — to get away with that as a two-pitch man. Guys have a good suggestion what’s coming and he beats them to the spot.

“To be contemporary after a bizarre yr and throw (177 innings) and appear to be he’s as sturdy as has sturdy as he’s ever been, it’s been a formidable 180.

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