Robbie Ray returns to Toronto to start Game 2 of the Wild Card Series

TORONTO – Robbie Ray will officially make his long-awaited return to the mound at the Rogers Center and face the team he won the AL Cy Young Award with last season. The Mariners southpaw was announced as the club’s Game 2 starter for the AL Wild Card Series by manager Scott Servais during the club’s practice day on Thursday.

Logan Gilbert will start Game 3 on Sunday, if necessary, formalizing what was expected. However, Servais suggested plans could change depending on Friday’s result in this best-of-three series, suggesting rookie George Kirby could also be in play.

“That could very well change,” Servais said.

Ray did not travel with the Mariners to Toronto in May due to COVID-19 vaccination stipulations, which were lifted last Saturday in Canada. He started against his former team on July 9 in Seattle, leading the Mariners to a tense 2-1 win that was part of the club’s 14-game winning streak.

Ray, who was traded from Arizona to Toronto during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, endured his worst major league season that year, compiling a 6.62 ERA and giving up 13 homers in 51 2/ 3 innings. It was such a rough year that Ray went back on a one-year, $8 million contract in his first year of free agency to restore his worth. He went on to win the AL’s top pitcher award while leading MLB with 248 strikeouts and leading the AL with a 2.84 ERA and 193 1/3 innings.

This led to Ray signing a five-year, $115 million deal last year with Seattle, which at the time was the wealthiest under president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto. Ray signed with the intention of making starts like Saturday’s.

“Winning the Cy Young last year, the highest honor you can win as a starting pitcher, now is the time to take it to the next level and win a World Series,” Ray said recently. “And that’s what I want to do every year, but I could tell that this team, the way it was going, the path that was laid out for this team, it seemed like the perfect fit.”

Ray has a career 2.49 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 65 innings over 10 starts at Rogers Centre. This season, he had a 3.71 overall ERA in 189 innings, eclipsing 200 strikeouts for the fifth time in his career.

Gilbert, who pitched 185 2/3 innings — by far a career high — had a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts in his sophomore season. The towering 6-foot-6 right-hander skipped his scheduled round on Wednesday after home-field advantage for the Wild Card series was no longer in play. He would kick eight days off after making his final start on Sept. 30.

Until two weeks ago, Kirby seemed ready for the Match 3 mission, but his business has dwindled in recent outings to the point where Gilbert is now the obvious choice.

“George Kirby is waiting backstage, and George has had a fantastic season in his first year,” Servais said. “He’s been one of the best pitchers in the American League here for the past few months, so he’ll play a part in this series – when he’ll fit in, I’m not quite sure yet. The game will tell you. sort of said.

Marlowe likely ready for playoff roster, MLB debut
All signs point to outfielder Cade Marlowe being recalled from the Minors, added to the 40-man roster and included in the 26-man contingent against Toronto, at which time he would make his MLB debut. The club won’t officially announce their roster until Friday morning, but Marlowe has traveled with the squad and will at least be part of the club’s taxi crew.

Seattle’s No. 22 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, Marlowe was recently named the Edgar Martinez Dominate the Zone Hitter Award winner among his minor leaguers after hitting .287/.377/.487 (.864 OPS) with 23 homers, 102 RBIs and 42 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. Last year, he won the Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year award.

If added, the 25-year-old will likely fill the spark plug role on the bench that the Mariners lost when Sam Haggerty suffered a Grade 2 adductor strain on Monday.

“He can play defense, he can run and he hits,” Dipoto said. “That’s a good sneaky prospect. … He was an easy pick for us, just based on the quality of his defense and the fact that he’s a plus runner and in the playoffs, those are really key things to have in terms of impacting the game. bench.

In order to clear a 40-man berth for Marlowe, the Mariners could trade one of their injured players, like Haggerty or reliever Ryan Borucki, to the 60-day IL and apply for an injury exemption from the league. which would almost certainly be approved.

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