Chris Ray's Gem

One outing can make a world of difference when you deal with small samples. From the beginning of the season up until yesterday's game, Chris Ray was mostly known for the 11 runs allowed in 7.1 innings pitched. Of course, we should all know better than to evaluate a pitcher based solely on that lousy metric, but it's a hard mental image to overcome.

Furthermore, Ray's more important numbers were mediocre to awful as well. He had a 6.6% swinging strike rate where the average American League reliever is two points higher at 8.6%. Over 40% of his pitches went for balls compared to a league-role average of just over 37%. Yes, his horrific ERA was a victim of a BABIP (.414) higher than his strand rate (.342), a feat shared only by Josh Lueke and Matt Thornton, but he was also pitching poorly.

Chris Ray threw just 11 pitches last night. His five fastballs yielded pedestrian results. His six sliders were magnificent. Oriole hitters swung five times at them and only once made contact, which resulted in a ground ball. Four missed bats and 10 strikes in 11 pitches single-handedly moved Ray's numbers from 6.6% and 40.5% to 9.1% and 37.9%.

Chris Ray now holds an above league-role average rate of swinging strikes, is nearly at average for getting strikes and has a slightly better than average batted ball profile. There is no way that I am going to argue that Chris Ray is suddenly an effective reliever. Small samples are small samples. However, he may not yet be entirely washed up and given that he's on the team for now, that's better than what we figured 24 hours ago.

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