How good is the rotation of the Rays?

by Gary Shelton on February 20, 2018 · 6 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Archer has had more than 10 wins only once./CARMEN MANDATO

Archer has had more than 10 wins only once./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

For starters, you worry about the rotation. You know, that former strength of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Well, it isn’t anymore.

The Rays, whose success was built on having an arsenal of lively arms, haven’t been very good as of late. And despite the assurances of Chris Archer, who says he’d put the Rays’ rotation up against anymore, the numbers don’t bare that out.

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Faria had an ERA of 3.43./CARMEN MANDATO

Faria had an ERA of 3.43./CARMEN MANDATO

“We have some very dynamic arms in this room,” Archer told USA Today. “I say this every year, because we will always have a special organization when it comes to arms, but I’m willing to put it up against everybody in the league.”

It’s nice to hear confidence, of course. But they’re saying the same thing in Chicago (Yu Darvish, Jon Lester) and in Cleveland (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco), and in Houston (Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel). The Red Sox are good (Chris Sale, David Price).

In recent seasons, the Rays’ starters have plodded along, giving up a ton of home run balls along the way. Now, they have lost Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi, two-thirds of their double-digit winners, as they go into a new season.

So can this rotation hold up? Or is the confidence out of line?

To try to find out the truth of the rotation, I checked a top-ten listing from the Bleacher Report. No, the Rays weren’t it in. I checked out a top five from Major League baseball. No Rays. I checked out a top five for Sports on Earth. No Rays.

Snell was better in the second half./CARMEN MANDATO

Snell was better in the second half./CARMEN MANDATO

Tell me: If the Rays were that good, wouldn’t someone notice?

Granted, it would be better if Cobb and Odorizzi were not gone. But they are. Which leaves the Rays with wings and prayers.

There is Archer, who won 10 last year. Of course, he lost 12 (and 31 over the last two seasons). He had a 4.07 ERA. In Archer’s six seasons, he has won more than 10 games only once.

There is Blake Snell, who won five games. His ERA was 4.04.

There is Jake Faria, who won five games. He had a 3.43 ERA.

There is Nathan Eovaldi, who didn’t win any. He had no ERA.

And, furthermore, yikes. Even those who are trying to believe in the ration are likely to see this as a year of transition where the young pitchers (Snell, Faria, Brent Honeywell) can grow.

This is the rotation that’s supposed to keep the Rays in games? Where is the pedigree? Where are the resumes?

Look, it isn’t science. When the Rays were good, in 2008 and from 2010-2-12, the top five of the rotation won more than 60 games a year. Last year, they won 41. The year before, 44. The year before that, 46. I know that wins can be a tricky thing, but if a team is good, someone has to get credit for winning them, don’t they?

Is there hope? Well, there is some. Matt Andriese will eventually join the other four when the Rays go to a five-man rotation (they won’t early). And if  Honeywell’s game matches his confidence, he could be the real deal.

But can you really say that this rotation is ready to lead the Rays to new heights? No, you can’t. There will be too many games that will get away long before the bullpen is involved.

Either that, or the Rays will surprise us.

Wouldn’t that be nice?



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald February 20, 2018 at 8:26 am

Well, given the Rays have a lousy TV contract, stadium & stadium site (evidently, I like the Trop), neither of which are the “fault” of current ownership (although he bought the team aware of both I’m sure), and given that no business owner ever spends additional capital unless they can reasonably expect increased revenue, I simply don’t see another course of action for the Rays other than going young and hoping some of the young arms and bats work out. I read an awful lot of criticism of the Rays, but the only suggestion that is ever made is for ownership to spend more – for what? For all the critics to sit in front of their TVs (doesn’t help the Rays) and watch better baseball? Would Longo and Cobb & Odo & CD make the critics come out to the Trop this season and spend money (help the Rays)? Didn’t work last year. I have no problem with people criticizing the Rays, but critics IMHO should provide reasonable suggestions, easiest thing in the world for people to do is be a critic, all you have to do is moan and groan, something that comes naturally to most folks.

Appreciate the column, Gary, Rays are going to have to get more out of their starters, or their bullpen, especially long relief if the starters struggle. Got to hope they surprise us! A bit of improvement with RISP would be a big help, too…



Gary Shelton February 20, 2018 at 9:51 am

How many victories do you see, Cecil? 75? 70? That’s hard on a fanbase, even if there are reasons for it.


Larry February 20, 2018 at 8:17 am

I agree that Rays starting rotation is over rated and probably has been for the last few years. When the starters go 6-8 innings and give up 2 or less runs the Rays are going to win a lot of those games. Unfortunately that rarely happens anymore. Cleveland, Houston and some others have great starting staffs. The Rays can’t compare with those staffs. The Rays are talking about using their bullpen more this year and limit the starters exposure after the second time through the order. That speaks volumes for how much confidence they have in their starters.


Gary Shelton February 20, 2018 at 9:52 am

Ah, but is underconfidence in the starters or over overconfidence in the bullpen?


Larry February 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm

In a word, Yes! I have no idea why they think that will work.


Gary Shelton February 20, 2018 at 8:59 pm

I’m not sure what else will except for spending as much as we’d like, and that’s not going to happen.


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