Category: Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Drop 5 Straight Games

Well this may not have been the start to the season that Tampa Bay Rays fans wanted to see, but with a depleted roster and a series of trades designed to flip veterans for prospects it is hard to say that Rays fans should not have seen this coming.

Things started well enough for the Rays, winning on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4. Starting pitcher Chris Archer, despite a shaky second inning, pitched admirably in the opener and Denard Span began his regular season with a triple that drove home three runs in what ended up being the deciding play of the game. Span, who had quite an impressive slashline during Spring Training, has been a potential bright spot on the otherwise mundane Rays roster.

However, since that Opening Day victory the Rays bats have seemed to fall asleep — failing to score more than four runs in their last five outings. David Price of the Red Sox pitched a gem of a game in the second outing, canceling out an equally impressive performance from Rays 25 year old lefty Blake Snell who gave up only three hits in his 5 and 2/3 innings.

After the home series against the boys from Fenway, the Rays traveled to the Big Apple to take on the Yankees. While only two out of the three scheduled games got to be played (with one being postponed due to heavy rainfall) they were uninspired affairs for the Rays players. On April 4th, unfortunately, the Yankees hitters figured out Blake Snell and bounced him from the game by the fourth inning. The ensuing result was a plethora of Rays relievers trying to get the Rays back in the ballgame, but once again the hitters were slow to get going. Yet Denard Span did in fact add another RBI — bringing his season total to a respectable total of six.

Dropping five games in a row this early in the season, of course, can’t bring too much optimism into the hearts of Rays fans and with six more road games before coming home to Tampa things may end up actually getting worse before they get better. It goes without saying that the Rays will need to start hitting the ball better if they want to reverse their disappointing results to begin this season.

Tampa Bay Rays continue opening slide

The Tampa Bay Rays came into the 2018 season with high hopes. A 1-5 start to the year has largely dashed those hopes, for now. As the Tampa Bay Times reports, the Rays dropped yet another game to the New York Yankees despite a valiant effort by starting pitcher Blake Snell who managed to go just four innings before he had to be lifted.

Snell was the latest to fall victim to the newest version of the Murderer’s row offense the Yankees have managed to put together. The starting pitcher’s 3.1 innings included four hits allowed, three walks, five earned runs, and two home runs surrendered. That outing got the Rays well on their way to their 7-1 loss. Once Snell departed, Matt Andriese came into the game and poured lighter fluid on the fire, allowing three hits, two earned runs, and another homer in 2.2 innings.

The Yankees that homered were the usual Yankees that you might expect to homer. There was Giancarlo Stanton already getting his third of the year. There was Aaron Judge getting his first of the year and Gary Sanchez also nabbing his first homer of the new season. Those two bats joining the hit parade likely have teams like Tampa more than a little nervous. The Rays are supposed to have a fairly decent offense, even if they don’t have long time third baseman Evan Longoria on the roster anymore.

That offense didn’t do much against Yanks starting pitcher Luis Severino, who is already 2-0 this season and has posted a 1.38 earned run average in his first two starts.

On Thursday afternoon, the Rays will change opponents from the New York Yankees to the Boston Redsox. It doesn’t appear on its face that is an improvement in their chances to win a game. Tampa will be squaring off against David Price, who managed to throw seven shutout innings in his first start of the 2018 season. One has to wonder if things are going to get better, or whether they’re going to get a lot worse as we head further into April. What is clear is that the Rays had been hoping to get out of the gate looking quite a bit better than they currently appear.

Rays Setting up for Future

During the 2017 Major League Baseball season, one team that surprised a lot of people for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays compete in the very competitive American League East Division where they have to play against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. One of the biggest challenges that this team has is competing with the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of payroll. While the Yankees and Red Sox tend to have two of the largest payrolls in Major League Baseball, the Rays typically are among the lowest. While the team does not necessarily have the budget to compete for top free agents, they do still do very well on the field.

Last season, the Tampa Bay baseball team did much better than most people would have thought. While most believe that last year would have been a rebuilding year for the team, they ended up finishing nearly 500 by winning 80 games and losing 82. While last season was a good year for the team, some are skeptical that he Rays could repeat their success this year (https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/tampa-bay-rays-2018-season-team-preview-mostly-cloudy-forecast/).

One of the main reasons why people are concerned about the team in the coming year is that they did lose a lot of their top players. While the trades may have been good moves for the long term, the team will be without Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, and Jake Odorizzi. Each of these players were traded for young talent that likely will be in the minors for a few more years.

While the Tampa Bay baseball team has lost a lot of their top talent, there is still plenty of reason for optimism in the future. After making these trades, the team has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. While many of the top talented players are still several years away from reaching the big leagues, the team will likely once again bring up some fresh arms in young assets later this year.

Overall, most experts believe that the Rays will fall a bit in the standings. Not only are they a bit worse, but the other teams in their division seem to have taken a step forward. This could make it a tough year, but the Rays will certainly win their fair share of games.

Denard Span Putting Together Solid Spring Training

As we get closer and closer to baseball’s Opening Day, 34 year old Center Fielder Denard Span seems to have found the fountain of youth as he has put together an impressive Spring Training campaign so far. A key returning piece in the trade that sent Evan Longoria to the San Fransisco Giants, Span is going to be the elder statesman in the clubhouse in what, by all indications, seems like a rebuilding year for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Through the early portion of Spring Training so far Span has put together an impressive slash line batting with .368 average including 4 extra base hits in just 36 plate appearances. In addition to those numbers he has knocked in 10 runs and even stolen a couple of bases, showing that the 34 year old still contains the speed and quickness required to patrol the outfield in the majors. He had a particularly good outing against the Tigers on March 18th, garnering 3 hits in 4 at bats and knocking in a decisive 10-5 victory over the rebuilding Detroit squad. While Span has never made an All-Star Game in his career thus far, he has routinely been a solid plug-n-play outfielder for a number of major league teams. In short: he’s the type of piece the Rays will need to keep around if they want to remain competitive and exciting to watch even during the extensive rebuild operation.

While it is never a great idea to place too much stock in spring training results it has to give the Ray’s front office some solace to see a veteran player such as Denard Span showing up and putting in solid work in all facets of the game. Denard has been in the majors since 2008 when he came up with the Minnesota Twins organization, surely in what has been a tumultuous offseason for the Rays it has to feel good to see one of the few remaining older players leading the youngsters by example. Whether or not Span will remain a Ray past the trading deadline, of course, remains to be seen but if he’s putting up equivalents to the solid numbers we’ve seen so far in Spring Training then he will be intriguing trade bait to a team looking to make a serious playoff push. Hopefully Span can find a home in Tampa Bay continuing to play at the level he’s shown this Spring Training, but with the Rays front office you truly never can tell.

Tampa Bay Rays Hoping for Healthy Rotation

With the start of the MLB season just a week away, the Tampa Bay Rays have named their Opening Day starter. The team has announced that ace Chris Archer, their best starter from a year ago, will take the mound for the season’s first game. This will be the fourth straight Opening Day start for the 29-year old Archer.

The 29-year old Archer is looking to get back to the All-Star game for the second consecutive year. When asked whether he takes the designation as Opening Day starter for granted, he responded, “Never…it’s an honor every single year to represent the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of the season.”

Archer, a 2-time All-Star, went a pedestrian 10-12 in 2017, with an ERA of 4.07. He was the most consistent starter in a sub-par rotation last year, taking the mound for 34 starts and throwing 201 innings. It was the third straight year that Archer has thrown over 200 innings, a rare enough feat in recent years.

During his career with the Rays Archer has been a steady presence through some rough losing seasons. He has been a regular part of the rotation since 2013 and is the longest tenured player after the loss of 3rd Baseman Evan Longoria this past offseason.

The Rays will open their season at home against the Boston Red Sox. The team is excited about their rotation that includes young phenom in Jake Faria and vastly improved Blake Snell. The question for the team will continue to be their defense and at the plate. They will surely miss the steady veteran Longoria, who was the only sure spot in their defense for the past decade.

A wild card in the Rays rotation will be the comeback of former #1 pitching prospect Nate Eovaldi, who is finally healthy after undergoing his second Tommy John Surgery in 2016. Whether he can return to the form he had with the Yankees in the first half of 2016 may very well determine the course of this season.

Manager Kevin Nash is hoping that the rotation stays healthy, believing that if it does then the wins will come. How Blake Snell rebounds from a disappointing second season will be something for fans to watch for. He was awful through the first 100 games but rebounded during the last two months of the season, going 5-1 in his last 10 starts with an ERA of 2.84.

Rays Pitcher Jose De Leon Out for Season

In another setback in what has been a frustrating offseason for Tampa Bay Rays fans, highly regarded pitching prospect Jose De Leon went down with an injury to his UCL in spring training — an injury which will require him to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entirety of the 2018 MLB season.

De Leon, a 25 year old righty from Puerto Rico, was widely regarded as a potential bright spot on an otherwise depleted Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff. Acquired from the Dodgers in a 2017 trade that sent second baseman Logan Forsythe to Los Angeles, De Leon was expected to crack the opening day lineup and provide valuable innings out of the bullpen for Tampa Bay. Unfortunately this injury is just one in a string of many for De Leon, who missed a large chunk of last season due to elbow tendinitis. Of course, injuries to a pitcher’s arm are considered especially tricky and not so long ago a UCL injury and Tommy John surgery would mark essentially the end of a pitcher’s career. Luckily with advancements in medical technology and more experienced doctors, nowadays a pitcher can return within roughly a year after receiving the surgery and perform at a high level. Another cause for optimism amongst the Rays faithful is that De Leon will be seeking out a second medical opinion from widely regarded doctor James Andrews who has performed surgeries on high-profile pitchers such as: John Smoltz, Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Yu Darvish amongst others. If Andrews can once again work his magic then there is no reason to doubt that De Leon will be rested up and ready for spring training this time next year.

While this is surely a disappointment for Rays fans and De Leon, what’s most important now is that the pitcher focuses on his physical rehab so that he can be ready to attack the 2019 season. What has been made clear is that when healthy, Jose De Leon is a formidable hurler and the type of young talent the Rays will need during their rebuild; his minor league 25-15 Win/Loss record and 3.32 ERA are proof that if De Leon can stay on the field he can be a major contributor against top-level talent.

Tampa Bay Rays using four-man rotation

While there are more than a few Major League Baseball teams this year that are looking at going to a six-man pitching rotation, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to go in the opposite direction. Manager Kevin Cash announced on Wednesday that he is planning on going with a four-man rotation this season. That is indeed a bit of a surprise because while most teams aren’t looking at expanding the number of pitchers in their rotation, very few are using a four-man turn these days.

30 years ago, the rotation with just four starters was something that was seen quite a bit more often. Cash appears to be a bit of a throwback to that time. Cash was clear to point out that doesn’t mean there won’t be a strict four-man rotation. The one caveat is that there might be a bit of a change after the first six weeks of the season. As Spring training started, Cash talked about how he wanted to use the four starting pitcher method for the first six weeks. He added at the time there might be some days that would be considered a “bullpen day.” This would likely be a day where a reliever would actually start the game but only go two or three innings, then give way to yet another reliever.

That approach has been used more than once in the last few years by other teams. The big difference is that usually the bullpen day is used alongside a five-man rotation as a way to give everyone in the regular rotation a little bit of extra rest. Cash is one of the first managers in quite a while to move to a smaller rotation rather than a larger one.

Among the teams that have been looking for at a six-man rotation, the Texas Rangers had been contemplating making the move. It turned out the team scrapped those plans when veteran pitcher Cliff Lee made it clear it was not something he was going to abide by. The Giants and Chicago Cubs have both talked about going to a six-man rotation as well but at this point, both teams are going to be using a regular five-man rotation at the start of the 2018 season at the least.

Tampa Bay Rays using four-man rotation

While there are more than a few Major League Baseball teams this year that are looking at going to a six-man pitching rotation, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to go in the opposite direction. Manager Kevin Cash announced on Wednesday that he is planning on going with a four-man rotation this season. That is indeed a bit of a surprise because while most teams aren’t looking at expanding the number of pitchers in their rotation, very few are using a four-man turn these days.

30 years ago, the rotation with just four starters was something that was seen quite a bit more often. Cash appears to be a bit of a throwback to that time. Cash was clear to point out that doesn’t mean there won’t be a strict four-man rotation. The one caveat is that there might be a bit of a change after the first six weeks of the season. As Spring training started, Cash talked about how he wanted to use the four starting pitcher method for the first six weeks. He added at the time there might be some days that would be considered a “bullpen day.” This would likely be a day where a reliever would actually start the game but only go two or three innings, then give way to yet another reliever.

That approach has been used more than once in the last few years by other teams. The big difference is that usually the bullpen day is used alongside a five-man rotation as a way to give everyone in the regular rotation a little bit of extra rest. Cash is one of the first managers in quite a while to move to a smaller rotation rather than a larger one.

Among the teams that have been looking for at a six-man rotation, the Texas Rangers had been contemplating making the move. It turned out the team scrapped those plans when veteran pitcher Cliff Lee made it clear it was not something he was going to abide by. The Giants and Chicago Cubs have both talked about going to a six-man rotation as well but at this point, both teams are going to be using a regular five-man rotation at the start of the 2018 season at the least.

RAYS HONEYWELL DIAGNOSED WITH TORN UCL, DUE FOR TOMMY JOHN SURGERY

Bad news for the Tampa Bay Rays as it was confirmed on Friday that top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell would have to undergo Tommy John surgery to fix a torn UCL incurred at a live batting practice session on Thursday.

 

Honeywell, 22, was only about ten pitches into his session when he threw a pitch and swore loudly before walking over to a trainer who accompanied him off the mound and into the clubhouse. The pitcher was reportedly aware of exactly what injury he had suffered before confirmation was given. In the aftermath of the incident, he was originally diagnosed with a right forearm strain.

 

The news comes on the heels of a series of trades and selloffs that have marked this off-season as a particularly difficult one for the Rays and potentially left the team severly shorthanded for the approaching season. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi was traded to Minnesota, outfielder Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh, third baseman Evan Longoria to San Francisco and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona. Souza is coming off the back of a breakout season that saw him set careers highs for runs, RBIs, stolen bases and home runs with 30. Longoria, a three-time All Star, had spent his entire career beforehand with the Rays, drafted with the third overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft and winning the American League Rookie of the Year, three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award. He leaves with the franchise records for most careers RBIs and home runs.

 

One of the most promising pitching prospects in the country, Honeywell is expected to be on the shelf for more than a year following surgery in what is another huge blow to the Rays. The pitcher was drafted 72nd overall in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft and was participating in his first spring training as a member of the 40-man roster en route to a Major League debut. His last season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls saw him post a 3.64 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 123.2 innings. He also played in the All-Star Futures Game and was ranked the number 12 prospect in all of professional baseball by MLB.com.

Ybor City Set to Welcome the Rays to Tampa – Finally

It took over 30 years and dozens of failed efforts to finally establish a Major League Baseball franchise in Southwest Florida. During spring training in 1995, Vince Naimoli’s ownership group was awarded a team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

While Tampa Bay had their city name attached to the new team, the actual honor of hosting every home game went to the Florida Suncoast Dome, in St. Petersburg. Maybe this oddity was partly to blame for what turned out to be an air of ineptitude for the better part of their first decade.

During their first 10 years of play in the American League East, only once did “The Devil Rays” not finish in dead last. Along with what grew into an inherent sense of futility, the jokes about their stadium didn’t help.

Big business stepped up in an effort to fuel the failing stadium, and The Suncoast Dome, opened in February 1990, became known to locals as “The Trop”. Tropicana Field was now the home of a floundering professional baseball team, in reference to the beverage giant from right across the bay in Bradenton.

In between the time when the Rays became the primary resident, Tropicana Field played host to more NBA exhibition games and NHL hockey matches than it did baseball games. However, with the 1995 decision by MLB executives, Tampa finally had their baseball team. Well, sort of.

In all honesty, the Rays have sort of been the team without a true city, ever since they threw out their first pitch in St. Pete. Every year there seems to be a growing sentiment to move the team either out of Florida altogether, or at least to a more appealing venue. Some even advocated tearing down Tropicana Field and starting from scratch. Yes, it’s been that bad.

To prove patience truly can be a virtue, nearly 20 years after their first game, the Rays announced they are coming home, home to Tampa Bay. Owner Stuart Sternberg announced plans for a new complex, including an ultra-modern baseball stadium, planned for a 14-acre tract in Ybor City.

There are a many questions yet to be addressed, including money. However, even before the first shovel full of dirt is dug, there is a lot of enthusiasm for the move. While not geographically impressive to the uninformed, it will be a move that will bring a team, once without a true city, home where they belong.