Category: Baseball

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.

Drew Smyly Pitches Great Against San Diego

There haven’t been many great pitching performances for the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2016 season. The Rays ace Chris Archer has had a very disappointing season in every way. However, Drew Smyly showed why the Rays acquired him in the trade that sent David Price to the Detroit Tigers. Smyly has always been very highly regarded by baseball scouts. Unfortunately, his performances have not always lived up to the lofty expectations that were created by his immense physical tools.

Smyly delivered a brilliant start against the San Diego Padres where he went seven innings and only gave up a single run. It was a performance that Rays manager Kevin Cash had been expecting for a long time. Cash said that there were some discussions about sending Smyly to the bullpen to work on a few of his pitches. However, his most recent performance has bought him some time in the starting rotation. The Rays hope that this is a sign of things to come from Smyly. He is a pitcher that the Rays are depending on as they hope to build a contender within the next several years. It remains to be seen if that will be the case.

The Rays offense was at their best. They pummeled San Diego pitchers and scored eight runs. Offensive explosions have not happened very often for the Rays in the past couple of months. The final score of the game was 8-2. Rays pitchers only surrendered a total of three hits. Manager Kevin Cash liked the way that his team played after a disappointing series against the New York Yankees where they lost three out of four games.

Former Rays player Wil Myers said that he was very impressed with the way that Smyly handled the hitters in the Padres lineup. The Rays bullpen came on to pitch the final two innings to nail down the win. The development of Smyly is very important for the Rays because they no longer have any of the pitchers who were prominent starters in the past for the team. David Price, Matt Garza, Matt Moore and James Shields have all been traded. Smyly has said that he likes the pressure of being considered one of the most important pitchers on the team.

Rays Avoid Sweep by Pummeling Yankees

It is no secret that the 2016 campaign for the Tampa Bay Rays has been one to forget. The team is buried in last place with no shot whatsoever of contending for the playoffs. One of the few bright spots this year for the Rays occurred in the finale of their four-game series at Yankee Stadium. The Rays had dropped the first three games of the series. However, the Rays were not going to go quietly and allow themselves to be swept out of town.

Three turned out to be the lucky number for the Rays in this game. Nick Franklin and Corey Dickerson both blasted long balls that were good for three runs each. Third baseman Evan Longoria also helped the cause with a double that drove in three runs. The Rays had been struggling mightily offensively all season. However, they took all of their frustrations out on Luis Severino. The Yankee starter was lit up during his brief outing where he left the game with one out remaining in the fourth inning. During that time, he gave up seven earned runs on eight hits. The poor performance earned Severino a trip back to the minor leagues after the game. 2016 has been a huge disappointment for Severino. The Yankees had very high hopes that he would be one of the key contributors to their rotation. However, a 7.19 earned run average made it impossible to keep him on the major league roster, let alone in the rotation. However, the Yankees are not worried. They know that Severino is young. There is still time for him to work out his problems and be a solid contributor for the Yankees in the future.

The pitching for the Rays was overshadowed by the massive offensive explosion. Jake Odorizzi gave a solid performance that saw him pitch six innings and only give up three earned runs. Floro, Garton and Colome each pitched single innings where they did not allow a run. Rays manager Kevin Cash likes what he has seen from Odorizzi this year. He has been able to overcome adversity to consistently deliver quality starts all year. He has definitely been one of the pleasant surprises for the Rays in a season where few things have gone right.

Archer and Rays Sweep Away San Diego

Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer has had a nightmare season in 2016. He had been one of the best pitchers in baseball for the past three seasons. He has not been able to string together the consistently great performances in 2016 like he has in the past. However, he showed Rays fans the type of pitcher he is still capable of being by shutting out the San Diego Padres. Archer put together one of his best starts of the season. He held the Padres scoreless for 7 1/3 innings. He maintained his velocity deep into the game.

The 2-0 win for the Rays was the fourth straight for the team that is currently in last place in the American League East. It also completed a sweep of San Diego in what has also been a year to forget for the Padres. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that he is proud of the way his team has been playing during the past four games. He believes that the Rays have more talent than their bad record would indicate. He also added that the best is yet to come for some of the Rays young players.

Archer accomplished something in this start that he had not done so far this season. It was the first time in 2016 that Archer has held an opponent scoreless for a minimum of seven innings. Archer was grateful for the standing ovation that he received from the Tampa Bay crowd as he was removed from the game. He registered nine strikeouts during the game. Kevin Cash also was pleased with his team’s ability to win a close game after winning a few blowouts recently.

Alex Colome came on to nail down the save for the Rays. He had to get more than three outs to do it. This was the first time since the third of June that Colome was called upon to pitch more than one inning to get a save. Both of the Rays runs were driven in by Brad Miller on a home run he hit in the first inning. Christian Friedrich pitched very well in defeat. He only surrendered two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. This game continued the Padres five-game losing streak.