MIAMI — The Arizona Diamondbacks are thrilled that left-hander Robbie Ray is coming off the disabled list to start Wednesday in the third contest of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins.
The teams have split the first two contests with Arizona winning 5-3 on Tuesday Eagles Avonte Maddox Jersey , due in large part to John Ryan Murphy’s three RBIs.
Meanwhile, Ray (2-0, 4.88 ERA) is off to a slow start compared to his breakout year of 2017, when he went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA, making the All-Star Game for the first time. He also finished seventh in the Cy Young voting.
On Wednesday, he will make his first start since April 29, when he was sidelined by a strained right oblique.
“I feel ready for this,” Ray told mlb.com. “I feel like I’m in really good shape. My arm feels good. My oblique is fine. I want to pitch and give us a chance to win.”
Ray, who averaged 30 starts in each of the past two years, will be making only his seventh appearance of 2018. He won his first two starts and then had four no-decisions and lasted just 1 1/3 innings on the night of his injury.
He has only two quality starts this year and was going to make a rehab appearance Monday night at Triple-A Las Vegas when the Diamondbacks coaches called him to tell him to come to South Florida instead.
Two rehab starts, Ray said, were enough.
“My first (rehab) start was rough,” he said. “After not pitching for eight weeks, there was some rust to knock off. But that second start, I felt good. All my pitches were working in all four quadrants, up, down Eagles Josh Sweat Jersey , in and out.”
Ray, who has averaged 93 mph this year on his fastball, made his major league debut in 2014 and has improved his strikeout rate per nine innings in every season (6.0, 8.4, 11.3, 12.1).
So far this season, Ray has improved in that stat again, striking out 14.6 batters per nine, which would lead all major league starters if he had enough innings to qualify.
Part of the strikeout formula for Ray, which began last year, is using his curve more, adding one more plus pitch to go with his fastball and slider.
On Wednesday, however, the Diamondbacks will be careful with Ray, not wanting to push him for too many innings in his first game off the DL.
“We’re just going to see how each inning goes,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We will make adjustments from there.”
Ray is 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA in three career starts versus Miami.
Meanwhile, the Marlins will counter with their own left-hander 49ers Weston Richburg Jersey , Wei-Yin Chen (2-4, 6.70 ERA), who has been a major disappointment for Miami ever since signing a five-year, $80 million contract prior to the 2016 season.
Chen, who has mediocre velocity with an average of 90.5 mph on his fastball, is 9-10 in his time with the Marlins.
The Marlins are 5-6 this year when Chen starts. Chen has managed only two quality starts this year.
Chen, who turns 33 next month, is averaging 6.5 strikeouts per nine, which is the worst mark of his career. His 4.5 walks are also on track to be a career worst.
In other news, the Marlins on Wednesday will get back manager Don Mattingly, who served a one-game league suspension Tuesday. Miami’s Dan Straily was also suspended, as the pitcher and his manager were faulted for their roles in a beanball war that broke out against the San Francisco Giants on June 19.
The Marlins are also expecting the return of catcher and All-Star candidate J.T. Realmuto, who missed the previous two starts after being hit with a foul ball while squatting behind the plate.
Realmuto, who is hitting .308 with 18 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .916 OPS 49ers Cassius Marsh Jersey , was struck on his left wrist.
“He’s got a lot more range of motion now,” Mattingly told The Miami Herald. “The X-rays were negative, but we want to get the swelling and the soreness out of there.”
Jim Schwartz inherited one of the NFL’s worst defenses and turned them into one of the best in less than two years.
When coach Doug Pederson hired Schwartz to be the defensive coordinator in 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles were coming off three straight seasons ranked in the bottom four in yards allowed.
Schwartz changed the scheme back to a 4-3 base and rebuilt the defense using many of the same players left from the old regime. He also brought a swagger that’s reflected in his players.
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, two-time Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive linemen Brandon Graham and Beau Allen, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks were part of the unit that struggled under former coach Chip Kelly and former defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
But they’ve thrived under Schwartz because his system fits their skills.
”He always puts us in great position to make plays,” Jenkins said.
Schwartz made an immediate impact last season, helping the defense go from 30th in yards allowed and 28th in points to 13th and 12th, respectively.
This season, they ranked fourth in both categories and had the league’s No. 1 run defense.
While Minnesota’s top-ranked defense got most of the attention, Philadelphia’s unit has been excellent in the playoffs.
The Eagles have allowed only 17 points in two games – one touchdown drive was 18 yards following a fumbled punt. They dominated the Vikings in a 38-7 win in the NFC championship game last Sunday.
Now, Schwartz has to devise a plan to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
”No player stands on his own,” Schwartz said. ”The NFL in general, but particularly the Patriots, you can’t scheme for one player. If you do, then they have plenty of other players that can make plays. You have to do a good job against their entire offense Colton Sissons Jersey , and you can’t really make it about one person.”
Schwartz began his NFL coaching career in Cleveland as a research assistant for Bill Belichick in 1993. After three seasons with the Browns, he spent three years as outside linebackers coach in Baltimore and then went to Tennessee. Schwartz served 10 seasons with the Titans, the last eight as defensive coordinator.
He coached the Detroit Lions for five seasons, leading them to the playoffs in 2011. Schwartz was Doug Marrone’s defensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2014, worked as a consultant for the NFL’s officiating department in 2015 and came to Philadelphia after Pederson was hired to replace Kelly.
”I owe a lot to Bill Belichick. He got my career started,” Schwartz said. ”That’s the last thing that we’ll be thinking about in preparation. You think any of our players care that in 1993 I got hired as an unpaid intern? They are just going out and playing.
”We need to come up with a good plan. We need to execute. We need to keep in mind what we’re good at, keep in mind our matchups and all those different things. And if we do a good enough job at that, we’ll be able to come out with a victory.”
Schwartz holds players accountable in meetings, singling guys out if they make mistakes. But he does it in a way where he doesn’t alienate them.
”He cares about winning. That’s what he’s all about, not himself,” defensive end Chris Long said.
Despite Schwartz’s success in Philadelphia, he won’t be leaving for another head coaching job just yet. The New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals were interested, but Schwartz wouldn’t confirm whether he interviewed with either team.
”I think it’s not fair to our players or anything else to talk about anything else,” Schwartz said.
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