Category: Baseball

Tampa Bay Ray’s Fastballs

Over the last decade, Tampa Bay Rays have recorded more strikeouts than any other pitching staff participating in the American League. Jim Hickey has been their pitching coach for all that time. The coach has an experience of two decades as a coach and pitcher in the minors.

Hickey got to experience how the hitter’s view of a rising fastball in 2004 after joining Houston Astros. He stood against Roger Clemens in the batter’s box, at Clemens’ request. From his position, Hickey could see his challenger zoom through the finish line. According to him, Clemens would turn burn and boom! It was his first time, and he thought that the trajectory would be a ball low.

Fastballs do not rise. However, some of them defy gravity for a longer time than others, making them look like they are rising. Such fastballs usually are not the ones thrown with maximum effort, but the ones that spin the most. According to Jake Odorizzi, Rays’ right-hander, this kind of fastball is usually referred to as the ‘invisiball’. Even though you might be seeing it, it is often challenging to hit it.

Odorizzi and most of his teammates can perform the move. Last season, none of the hardest throwers pitched for Tampa Bay, yet a study by Fangraphs in March indicated that the Rays threw over 60 percent of their fastballs (four-seam) up in the zone. According to Rays’ starter Chris Archer, the players will have to pitch to their level best as it continues to be the team’s edge. Watching the Rays pull the ‘invisiball’ move remains to be the most enjoyable part of the game.

The Rays’ Move in New Acquisition

The Rays made a significant move that eventually lead to their success when they acquired Chaz Roe. Due the unclaimed through waivers and a lat strain, Roe has recovered after a long DL stay. He will go to Triple-A Durham, where the Rays will confirm his ability of what he demonstrated during the previous five seasons in the majors. Kevin Cash; the team’s manager said it was going to be a great mix since they were not used to throwing several balls in the bullpen, something that Roe has the experience to do.

With the top target being Justin Wilson of Detroit LHP, the Rays are consulting with many teams concerning bullpen help while casting a wide net, some rentals like Pittsburgh LHP Tony Watson and Pat Neshek of Philadelphia RPH are included. This calls for a high acquisition cost that includes Hunter Strickland of San Francisco and a right-handed bat that they are looking for. They have clarified that they feel good about the new members and are interested in their options that will be there in Durham.

The 30-year-old Roe previously played for Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Orioles, and the Rays will made great achievements by acquiring him. Meanwhile, Logan Morrison was honored to be selected by the MLB Players Alumni Association as the winner of the Rays’ Hustle and Heart Award, embodying the game’s traditions, values, and spirits. According to him, however, his focus his not on the award but that the Rays should win more games as he plays harder.

Will Rays Trade for Bullpen Help?

Tampa Bay is only a couple of games out of first place in the AL East, and right on their heels are the New York Yankees. With the race for the division crown red hot, the Bronx Bombers have put a huge amount of pressure on both the first place Red Sox and the Rays with their trade that brought slugging third baseman Todd Frazier and pitcher David Robertson (2.70 ERA, 13 saves) to the team. The pressure is now on Tampa Bay to try and do something to bolster its roster for the stretch run.

One area the Rays are looking at is their bullpen. Yes, Alex Colome has 28 saves, but his 3.71 ERA is a bit high for a closer. Tommy Hunter has done a tremendous job paving the way for Colome with a 1.88 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28 innings. The rest of the bullpen, however, is suffering from sky high ERAs.

So who can help? One possibility is Philadelphia’s lone All-Star Pet Neshek. He’s 3-2 with a 1.17 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 38 innings. He’s also being targeted by Boston, so Tampa Bay may have to be quick to pull a trigger on any deal for Neshek.

Another pitcher in Tampa Bay’s sights is Justin Wilson. The Detroit closer is 3-3 with a 2.29 ERA and ten saves. With their recent trade of J.D. Martinez to Arizona, the Tigers have shown they are in fire sale mode and willing to deal their top talent. Your text to link…

No doubt one or both of these pitchers will help Tampa Bay’s bullpen, and perhaps give them the edge in the American League East race. The question is, who must the Rays give up to get them?

Jonny Venters Returns to Tampa Bay Baseball Organization

The Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern division of the American League open their 2017 campaign on April 2 against the New York Yankees. Left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters will be with the Ray’s organization at the start of the season, but not in Tampa. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Tampa club.

 

At this point, the highlight of Venters’s career has been with the Atlanta Braves during 2010 to 2011. From the bullpen, he owned a 1.89 ERA and pitched 171 innings. In 2012, Venters injured his elbow and endured his second Tommy John surgery. While going through rehabilitation for that injury, he was injured again and required an additional surgery.

 

This is not Venters first venture with the Rays. In March of 2015, Tampa signed Venters as he was returning to baseball after his third Tommy John surgery. By mid-June of 2016, his pitch velocity was up to the middle 90s, and Venters pitched his first professional ballgame in four years on June 4, 2016. This comeback did not endure. In the course of his fifth appearance of the 2016 season, he had to leave the game with a torn UCL.

 

According to Baseball Reference, during Tommy Johns surgery the medial elbow ligament is replaced with a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or from a cadaver. The procedure is named after Tommy John, a major league pitcher and the first ball player to undergo the surgery. Prior to the development of the technique, pitchers were just noted to have a “dead arm” when their pitches no longer had the velocity from prior years. There is some disagreement in baseball circles if it is the speed of the pitches or the types of pitches thrown that result in a pitcher needing surgery.

 

 

Colby Rasmus Completes Agreement with Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball’s off season continues, and this week we learned some news affecting the Tampa Bay Rays. With a few months to go before spring training, the team has begun changing its line-up, and more changes are likely on the way. Free agent Colby Rasmus has signed on with the Rays.

 

USA Today reports that the 30-year-old Rasmus, who spent the last two seasons with the Houston Astros, has reached an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rasmus will provide depth in the outfield, which was sorely needed last year.

 

Other players in the Rays line-up might be wondering what other changes will occur in the next few months. The team needs to make room for Rasmus on its line-up, so someone will have to go. The Rasmus deal could be the first of many changes, but that remains to be seen. Some off-season reshuffling of the line-up was expected, and now it has begun.

 

No one expects Rasmus to emerge as a team leader in Tampa Bay. Adding him to the line-up, however, is an intelligent decision by management, and the addition shows a willingness to address weaknesses in the team’s roster. He could easily emerge as a solid outfielder, and that is clearly the outcome that the team’s management expects.

 

The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, so it is unclear hos much Rasmus will cost the Rays. As an eight-year veteran with a decent record, Rasmus is likely relieved to have the deal inked. Now he can focus on preparing for the upcoming season and learning the ins and outs of Tampa Bay’s system. Here’s hoping that he is just what the Rays need in order to give fans a fantastic season.

 

The Tampa Bay Rays Finish a Difficult 2016 Season

Not much went right for the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2016 season. The team began spring training with the idea that they would be contenders in the very strong American League East. However, this is not how things would eventually work out for the club. The division was actually much tougher than anyone expected. In fact, the American League East was the only division in the majors to have four teams with a winning record. Needless to say, having to play the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees many times made the season very difficult for the Rays to endure.

 

The Rays eventually finished the season in last place with a record of 68 wins and 94 losses. There were many factors that led to the Rays compiling a record that was worse than every other team in the American League except the Minnesota Twins. One of the biggest disappointments was the performance of starting pitcher Chris Archer. He had been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the past three seasons. There were big expectations for him. He turned 27 in 2016. This is traditionally the age when most baseball players have their biggest season. However, things did not go according to plan for Archer. His earned run average for the season was a very unimpressive 4.02. This was a major increase from the stellar 3.23 earned run average he posted in 2015. He also surrendered 30 home runs in 2016. This was 11 more than he had ever surrendered before in a single season. Archer would finish the season with 19 losses.

 

The offense was also a big letdown for the team. Rays manager Kevin Cash thought that his lineup was very balanced and would get on base frequently. However, that was not the case. The only thing the Rays did well offensively in 2016 was hit home runs. Unfortunately, their inability to get on base consistently hurt the club. Far too many of their home runs were solo shots. Their inability to score runs on a regular basis put their pitching staff under a great deal of pressure. Rays hitters also struck out far too frequently. Kevin Cash attributes this to a lack of strike zone knowledge and plate discipline.

Tamp Bay Rays Fall Again

The Tampa Bay Rays, formerly called the Devil Rays, lost again today to the Boston Red Sox, 3-2 in ten innings. This drops their overall season record to 65-90, again in dead last in the AL East. This division includes the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays. Just for effect, the Tampa Bay Rays, long since out of the playoff hunt, sit 26.5 games out of first place.

In the 10th inning, Dustin Pedroia scored the game winning run; however, the Rays catcher Luke Maile actually had three separate opportunities to tag him out. Pedroia, having one of the best years of his career, somehow dodged the first two swipes. On the final try, Maile succeeded in tagging Pedroia; however, the ball somehow came loose from his glove. Therefore, Pedroia was safe. This all came after a terrific throw from the outfield beat Pedroia to the plate by over 5 yards. Lost in all of this was David Ortiz, whose last hit at the Rays’ stadium will go down as a game winner. This is the 11th straight win for the Red Sox who continue to widen their lead in the AL East. The Red Sox also struck out 11 straight Rays hitters at one point in the game.

As the Tampa Bay Rays begin to look for offseason needs, it’s obvious the Rays need to invest in some offensive firepower. They have been mediocre at best while at the plate, and the position that can easily be improved to bolster their offensive production is corner outfield. While this is a source of extra base hits and home runs for most teams, this has been lacking for the Rays. With Evan Longoria and Logan Forsythe, there is a sturdy foundation for this team to build around. Adding another bat would add some protection for Longoria, who often gets pitched around due to the weaker hitters around him in the lineup.

Furthermore, the Rays definitely need to figure out who they want to play catcher for them in the long term. They have used 4 different catchers for extended periods of time. This capricious attitude towards a position calling pitches has led to an inability for pitchers to develop a routine. While all four players have their pros and cons, the Rays need to settle on someone going forward.

Rays Play Spoiler with Win over Toronto

The hopes of the Tampa Bay Rays making the playoffs in 2016 disappeared a long time ago. However, they can still be a thorn in the side of teams that are still very much alive in the playoff hunt. For example, the Toronto Blue Jays currently found themselves at the top of the American League East standings by two games when they began a three-game series at Tropicana Field against the Rays. The home ballpark of the Rays has always been a house of horrors for the Blue Jays. The first game of the series was more of the same.

The 8-3 win for the Rays was significant because it was the first game that Alex Cobb had started since September of 2014. The right-hander allowed two runs while pitching five innings to get a no-decision. This was a major step forward after he missed almost two complete seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Danny Farquhar would come in and pitch a shutout inning in relief of Cobb to pick up the win. Cobb said his arm felt good after the start.

It was yet another disappointing outing for Marcus Stroman. The starter for the Blue Jays has had a 2016 season where he has failed to live up to Toronto’s lofty expectations for him. He was projected to be the team’s ace of the future. However, his 4.58 earned run average clearly shows that the young right-hander is not ready to take on that big responsibility. Stroman took the loss to drop his record to 9-6. He pitched six innings and gave up three earned runs.

The Rays continued to show off the power that they have displayed all season. They launched three home runs against Toronto’s pitchers. Brad Miller, Luke Maile and Logan Morrison all went deep for the home team. The Boston Red Sox won their game in Oakland. This means that Boston gained one game on Toronto in a very tight divisional race. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays have never fared well at Tropicana Field.

Smyly Pitches Poorly as Rays Lose to Red Sox

The 2016 season has been a very rough one in many ways for the Tampa Bay Rays. The losses have occurred regularly and the team now finds itself mired in last place with no hope of making the playoffs. Most people knew that the talent the Rays were going to put on the field this season was not going to be able to compete with the lineups of division rivals Toronto and Boston. However, the hope was that the young players of the Rays would start to develop into players that could help them become a contender again in the future. It would be a massive understatement to say that things have not gone according to plan.

One of the biggest disappointments has been left-handed starting pitcher Drew Smyly. He was the primary player that the Rays got in return when they traded superstar pitcher David Price to the Detroit Tigers two years ago. He has been very inconsistent during his time in a Rays uniform. He has given up 29 home runs so far in 2016. That total is a new career high for him. Needless to say, he will need to prevent the ball from leaving the park with such regularity if he is ever going to become the ace that people in the Rays front office thought he would when they traded for him.

The Rays lost the final game of their series in Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Smyly allowed two more home runs during the game. The second of these was a Hanley Ramirez grand slam that gave the Red Sox the lead. The Rays would rally and take Smyly off the hook. He would end up getting a no-decision after pitching five innings and surrendering seven hits and six runs.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said he was satisfied with Smyly’s performance since he came to the Rays. He believes Smyly has the attitude and talent to become the leader of a very young Rays staff. Smyly was understandably upset with his outing. He told the media after the game that there were several pitches that he would like to have back. However, he gave credit to the Red Sox hitters for being so aggressive and taking advantage of his mistakes.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Drew Smyly Dominates On The Mound

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly was dominant in his team’s latest out, an 8-2 win over the visiting San Diego Padres. Pitching seven innings of just one run ball, the pitcher also allowed just one hit, a solo home run.

The solid outing was especially good news for Smyly who has struggled in 2016, his third with the team and first where he’s spent the entire season as a starting pitcher. The win on Monday night pushed his season record to just 5-11 and actually lowered his earned run average to 4.85.

That performance is in stark contrast to the way Smyly has pitched in some short tryout sessions for the Rays in the last two years. In 2015, the pitcher appeared in 12 games and posted a 5-2 record with a 3.11 earned run average. The year before that, he appeared in seven games, went 3-1 and posted a 1.70 ERA.

Perhaps Monday night’s game will be the beginning of a turnaround the team has been waiting for all season. ABCActionNews reports Alexei Ramirez was the Padre who hit the solo home run and Derek Norris drew two walks. That was the extent of the base runners San Diego was able to get off the starting pitcher.

One of the most notable story lines for the game on Monday was the return of a beloved former Ray. Wil Myers was once considered to be the future of the franchise, but he was later traded to San Diego and played his first game in Tampa since being dealt away.

While there are likely people who are plenty happy to see him come back to town, fans of the team were likely pleased he wasn’t able to cause any real damage. Myers did manage to get a single in four at-bats but he couldn’t solve Smyly at all, getting that one hit off the Rays’ bullpen.

The game featured two teams suffering through rather disappointing seasons. Both San Diego and Tampa Bay entered the year hoping to contend but neither team has a realistic shot at making the playoffs as the season winds to a close.
Thet team did have a bit more success when it came to the Rays’ bullpen but at that point it was too little, too late.