The Seattle Mariners placed left-hander Robbie Ray on the 15-day injured list on Saturday because of a left flexor strain, the team announced ahead of its game versus the Cleveland Guardians. In a corresponding move, fellow lefty Gabe Speier was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
Ray, 31, made his season debut on Friday night. He struggled with his location over the course of 3 1/3 innings against the Guardians, walking five of the 19 batters he faced. Ray struck out three and surrendered five runs (three earned) on four hits. He was also charged with the loss, for whatever that's worth.
On Saturday Ray told reporters, including MLB.com, he first felt tightness in his forearm in the second inning of Friday's start, though he chalked it up to the cold. He has a Grade 1 strain and will be shut down two weeks, after which the Mariners will reevaluate him. Ray will receive daily treatment in the interim.
Baseball Prospectus' injury database shows that pitchers have missed more than two months on average because of flexor strains, but that most pitchers returned to the mound within four weeks. The flip side is that flexor injuries are often viewed as precursors to Tommy John surgery. Obviously that qualifies as the worst-case scenario here, and it may not come to pass.
Ray is in the second season of the five-year pact he signed with the Mariners following his Cy Young Award-winning effort in 2021. Last year, he compiled a 3.71 ERA (100 ERA+) and a 3.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32 starts. To his credit, he's made a full slate of starts in four consecutive seasons.
With Ray sidelined, the Mariners could go any number of ways with their rotation, including moving Chris Flexen back into a starting role. Alternatively, Seattle could turn to a minor-league pitcher, be it Easton McGee (who is on the 40-player roster) or a prospect like Emerson Hancock or Bryce Miller.
The Mariners made one other move this weekend, acquiring utility player Nick Solak from the Cincinnati Reds. Solak has been assigned to Triple-A.