Following the worst season of his MLB career, Robbie Ray spent the offseason rebuilding his game.

He began doing two-a-days in his local gym, he worked on his pitching mechanics and he came up with a new delivery. The results speak for themselves as Ray took 29 of 30 first-place votes to win the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

“I definitely felt really good in the spring,” Ray told MLB Network on Wednesday night. “I felt like physically I was there [and] mentally I was in a really good place. Aand I talked about [how] my delivery was repeatable. Everything was just coming together at the perfect time.”

The former Brentwood High star is the fourth pitcher in Blue Jays history to win a Cy Young Award, joining Roy Halladay (2003), Roger Clemens (1997-98) and Pat Hentgen (1996). He won the honor over New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and Chicago White Sox starter Lance Lynn, with Cole having received the other first-place vote. 

Ray went 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA, 248 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP in 193.1 innings — a far cry from his 2020 season when he went 2-5 with a 6.62 ERA and led MLB in walks with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also won the 2021 Players Choice Award for AL Outstanding Pitcher.

“I would drop the kids off at school at 7:30 and immediately get in the gym,” Ray continued. “My wife would get so mad at me because late at night when she’s wanting to watch Netflix, I’m getting in the gym again. I‘m putting the kids down for bed and heading back to the gym…For me, it was worth the sacrifice.”

After declining a one-year, $18.4 million deal from Toronto last week, Ray became a free agent on Wednesday. He played the 2020 season on a one-year, $8 million contract.

Ray is one of the top pitchers available on the open market, and he should command top-dollar contract just north of $20 million per season. The 30-year-old stated he hasn’t ruled out a return to the Blue Jays.

“Toronto is still in the conversation,” Ray said, via MLB.com. “We’re still talking to Toronto on a daily basis. But, also, we’re testing the free agent market. This is fun for me and my family to go through this process and we’re really enjoying it.”

Selected in the 12th round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals, Ray was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December 2013 in exchange for starting pitcher Doug Fister. He spent one year in Detroit before being shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team trade that sent shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees and pitcher Shane Greene to the Tigers.

Ray played for the Diamondbacks from 2015 through 2020 when he was traded to Toronto for pitcher Travis Bergen. 

At Brentwood, Ray went 7-1 with a 0.50 ERA and 95 strikeouts during his senior year. He had three no-hitters and a perfect game against Centennial High School. Ray also played youth baseball with 2018 AL MVP and former Overton High School star Mookie Betts.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

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