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Robbie Ray Has Earned Shot for Detroit Tigers in Anibal Sanchez’s Absence

April 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM
By Max DeMara

Injuries in baseball, while a grim misfortune of an intense day to day grind, present fantastic opportunities for others. Just ask Lou Gehrig, who utilized such a scenario to help turn Wally Pipp's name into a verb.

'Robbie Ray IMG_1214' photo (c) 2014, Roger DeWitt - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Nobody is suggesting the same situation will play out with the Detroit Tigers and their suddenly blister-saddled starter Anibal Sanchez, but in Toledo, there's a well-known young pitcher who's more than earned his shot at a temporary promotion.

Through the early season, Robbie Ray is 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 16 strikeouts as a member of the Mud Hens. Ray, of course, has been considered Detroit's centerpiece in the much ballyhooed Doug Fister trade. If the first blush is any indication, Ray could be outgrowing his Toledo surroundings in a hurry.

Interestingly enough, prior to this season, Ray's already had some seasoning at the minor league level. He pitched in Double-A ball last season, and was a relatively fast riser through Washington's farm system.

In these situations, a team should attempt to strike when the iron's hot and get their young thrower some meaningful experience at the big league level. During the long run, it helps to benefit the player as he finds his way. Sanchez will likely need some time to recover, so who should be the first call-up?

Considering the way he's performed and the relative ambiguity of everyone else he's pitching with, Ray is the only logical choice to enter the rotation at this point in time. Even without Sanchez, Detroit's rotation is deep enough to sustain such a move, especially with the way Rick Porcello has pitched lately and a decent start from Drew Smyly.

In other words, there might not be a more opportune time to see what the team has in Ray, a player who figures to have all the tools to make the big league jump sooner rather than later. Had he gotten off to a rocky start this season, Detroit might have been better served to let him find his way in Toledo.

A move is expected to be announced soon, perhaps as quickly as Monday. Ray deserves his shot, and the opportunity to make his first appearance in the big leagues. Not only will it help Ray, but it could help quell the negativity regarding the Fister move. Who knows, perhaps he will be motivated and perform well enough to temporarily send Smyly back to a needy bullpen.

Detroit doesn't have anything to lose, and could only gain in the end by letting Ray make his first big league appearance early this season.

Max DeMara is a contributor for @Pistons_101 and @tigers_101. Follow each to connect with him there on Twitter.

Tags: Anibal Sanchez, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Doug Fister, Drew Smyly, MLB, Rick Porcello, Robbie Ray

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