It’s been a disastrous season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, as they have baseball’s third-worst record at 59-84. What’s remarkable is they have actually had several things go right: Jake Lamb, despite slumping in the second half, has still had a breakout season; Jean Segura has put up a 4-WAR year; Yasmany Tomas has hit 29 home runs. Then there’s Robbie Ray, who starts Tuesday night. He’s 7-13 with a 4.46 ERA, numbers that scream mediocrity more than greatness, just another cog in the Diamondbacks’ losing ways. And yet there’s this:
Those are the eight starters who have averaged 10-plus K’s per nine, which would be the largest that list has been in a single season, and there’s Ray, No. 2 on the list. Ray’s season ranks 20th all time in K’s per nine, and the only left-handers with a higher rate have been Randy Johnson, Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw. So that’s obviously good company to be hanging with. But then there’s this: Ray has allowed 163 hits in 155.1 innings, a lot of hits for a pitcher who strikes out so many batters. I did a quick search for all pitchers who have struck out 10-plus batters per nine in a season, a list of 80 seasons. Batters have hit a collective .212 against those pitchers. The worst averages allowed:
Garcia is at the center of the storm at the moment, but he’s hardly alone in having gotten the Cardinals into this perilous spot, a half-game behind the New York Mets for the second wild card with only 18 games left. The Cardinals have three of the highest ERAs in the National League among qualified starters: Garcia is fourth with a 4.65 ERA, Mike Leake is fifth with a 4.60 ERA and Adam Wainwright is eighth with a 4.45 ERA.
Then it happened again nine days ago in a game in Baltimore that Girardi dubbed “the most important game of the season,” following two losses that threatened to drop the Yankees out of the AL wild-card race. Once again, Ellsbury, who presumably was signed to play center field everyday for the Yankees, found himself on the bench.
Fast forward to Tuesday and another “must-win” game, this time against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had won big on Monday. With rookie lefthander Julio Urias on the mound, once again Ellsbury was on the bench.
That Ellsbury got off the bench had a lot more to do with an injury to Aaron Judge than any change of heart on the part of the manager. That Ellsbury delivered what turned out to be the winning blow in the Yankees’ 3-0 victory, a solo home run in the seventh inning that broke a scoreless tie, is unlikely to change anything going forward.
Ellsbury is the Yankees’ everyday center fielder, except when he’s not.