Mariners place LHP Robbie Ray on IL after rocky 1st start of 2023

Apr 1, 2023, 1:36 PM | Updated: 1:40 pm

Mariners Robbie Ray...

Robbie Ray of the Seattle Mariners reacts against the Cleveland Guardians on March 31, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners didn’t have a starting pitcher land on the injured list last year, or even miss a schedule start. That’s already not the case in 2023 after just two games.

On Saturday, the Mariners placed left-handed starter Robbie Ray on the 15-day injured list with a left flexor strain. In a corresponding move, the M’s recalled left-handed reliever Gabe Speier from Triple-A Tacoma.

Ray, 31, lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Guardians on Friday, allowing five runs, three of which were earned. He walked five batters, allowed four hits, struck out three and also made a throwing error on a strange play early in the game that resulted in two runs scoring.

Ray threw 91 pitches on Friday and just 51 were strikes. After the game, Ray said he felt his fastball was “kind of misfiring” up and out of the zone, and a lot of his pitches were “non-competitive.”

Ray joined the Mariners ahead of the 2022 season, a year after he won the American League Cy Young Award while with the Toronto Blue Jays. He posted a 3.71 ERA across 32 starts in 189 innings. He had a very strong spring training for the Mariners, who were excited about his increased fastball velocity and the look of his fastball-slider combo.

The good news for the Mariners is they have a proven MLB starter ready to slide into Ray’s rotation spot in Chris Flexen. Flexen was Seattle’s best starter in 2021 and was in the rotation for most of 2022 before the M’s acquired Luis Castillo. Flexen then moved to the bullpen, and he broke camp this year as the long man in the ‘pen.

Flexen made his 2023 debut on Friday, throwing four innings and allowing one run. He walked three, allowed four hits and picked up one strikeout.

With Flexen having pitched in a game Ray started, it should be a smooth transition for him in terms of rest and the team’s turn through the rotation. Assuming Flexen does indeed take Ray’s turn in the rotation, his next start would be next Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

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