Can Rays’ relievers make a lead stand up?

by Gary Shelton on June 4, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Castillo has been shaky lately./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

They still strike out too often. There are times the baserunners need a GPS. Their hitting can disappear against a good pitcher.

But the Tampa Bay Rays won’t fall short of their playoff aspirations in any of those areas.

If they fall short, it will probably be because of the back end of their bullpen.

Which, frankly, is showing cracks.

Oh, both Jose Alvarez and Diego Castillo started the season well enough. Castillo converted his first five save opportunities. Alvarado converted his first four. They were armed, and they were dangerous.

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Rays’ Alvarado is in an awful slump./CHUCK MULLER

And then, it all went away.

Castillo and Alvarado are a combined 1-8 on the season. Meltdowns have happened. Runners have made you dizzy with the way they run the bases. The trust has dwindled. And suddenly, the Rays aren’t that terrific anymore. Despite a recent six-game winning streak, the Rays are 12-10 in their last 22 games.

Can it all be placed on the twin closers? Of course not.

But have they performed well. No, they haven’t.

Hey, the Rays will concede this much. They are built to perform in one-run games. But that isn’t happening lately. They’re 4-8 on the season. They need dependable finishes to compete.

Hey, the stuff is there. Last year, on fumes, Sergio Romo had 25 saves. Despite the great starts, Alvarez and Castillo have just six saves each. If you figure the Rays are just past the one-third mark in the season, that would give them 18 each. Over their history, eighteen Rays relievers, some of them in seasons that were lost early, had at least 18 saves.

Remember Fernando Rodney? He had 48 saves in one season, with a 0.60 ERA. HE blew three saves all season; Alvarado already has two.

Remember Rafael Soriano? He had a 45-save season. Alex Colome saved 47. Roberto Hernandez saved 43. Danys Baez saved 41. Brad Boxberger saved 41.

This is nowhere close to those performances. This is more like the forgettable Tyler Walker, who saved just 10 games in 2006 and blew 10 saves.

Will it even out? Probably. Both Alvarado and Castillo throw hard. But will it be good enough? That’s a tougher question. Can these two shut the door often enough to let this team make a run at the second wild-card position.

Right now, the Rays lead, 3-2. But there are runners on base, and the pitchers are behind in the count.

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