Rumors swirl as Ray starts for Diamondbacks against O's

Left-hander Robbie Ray will look to win his fourth straight start -- and perhaps his last in an Arizona uniform -- when the Diamondbacks host the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

Ray (8-6, 3.92 ERA) has career numbers of 43-44 and a 4.03 ERA in his six major league seasons, the last five with the Diamondbacks. Since the start of the 2017 season, however, he's 29-13 with a 3.51 ERA, and he's also believed to be among the hottest commodities heading into this year's July 31 trade deadline.

Reports list several contenders interested in his services, notably the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros.

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The 27-year-old Ray told AZCentral.com his approach is to "just go about your business every five days. Position players are in it every day, so they have to focus on what they're doing every day. ... For me, it's just, tune it out. As long as you're doing your job every five days, for me, everything else is going to fall into place."

In his three consecutive wins, Ray has allowed a combined six runs in 18 1/3 innings with eight walks and 23 strikeouts.

Despite losing Sunday to the Brewers 7-4, the Diamondbacks are a mere 2 1/2 games behind the second wild-card spot.

If they do become sellers at the deadline, however, the Yankees have some strong insight: Bullpen coach Mike Harkey was Arizona's pitching coach in 2015.

Harkey told NJ.com that Ray, who went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA in an All-Star season in 2017, is "100 times better than he was (in 2015), and he still has potential to be even better than that. I see him being a guy who can win 20 games at this level."

Ray has made one start against the Orioles in his career. In 2016, he took the loss when he allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits in 3 2/3 innings with four walks and five strikeouts.

The Orioles will counter with Aaron Brooks (2-3, 4.69), acquired in early July on waivers from the Athletics, who used him as a starter to begin the season before sending him to the bullpen in mid-May.

Baltimore has used Brooks as a de facto "opener" while he builds back up to being a starter. In two starts, covering a combined 5 1/3 innings, he has allowed one run on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

Brooks told reporters he is comfortable as a starter but that he is "up for anything."

"Probably just the intensity (is different in relief)," he added. "I learned that I can physically intensify everything a little bit easier than in having a starter's routine. Just being able to pitch when my name is called and prove to myself that I can do that."

The 29-year-old Brooks has a tough act to follow, after Asher Wojciechowski allowed the Red Sox just one hit over 7 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 shutout on Sunday.

Trey Mancini drove in three runs, blasting a pair of home runs for the Orioles, who have won three of their last four games.

Brooks has made one appearance against the Diamondbacks, taking a no-decision in a start in 2015.

The Diamondbacks lost three of four to the Brewers over the weekend, mostly because their bullpen surrendered 16 runs in 14 2/3 innings for an ERA of 9.82.

--Field Level Media

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