Category: MLB

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?

Tampa Bay Rays on the Rise

The Tampa Bay Rays are on the rise once again. While other teams wonder who they are, the Rays know. As a matter of fact, they have known their identity for most of the last decade which has led to a consistency when other teams ride highs and lows. It is also the reason they are once again battling the powerful Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the American League East. With a modest $70 million payroll, they are smart because they know who they are and stay within themselves.

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has them moving into his Top Ten MLB Power Rankings this week ahead of the Yankees. He explains his reasoning in this video clip https://sports.yahoo.com/mlb-power-rankings-surprise-al-east-contender-172241269.html . It’s easy to agree with the points he makes.

Chief among his reasons is their consistent and powerful offense led by Logan Morrison, Steven Souza, Jr, and Corey Dickerson. Morrison has 26 home runs, Souza has 18, and All-Star starter Dickerson has 17. They make a combined $6 million or so and have 61 homers not a hundred games into the season. Their pitching rotation features Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi. It has the second best ERA in the American League behind the Houston Astros. They play solid defense, don’t hurt themselves, win more than they lose, and keep themselves in the pennant race against the behemoths in the division.

The Rays are rising by knowing who they are. They pay their players what they can, create a consistent culture, embrace their identity, and remain true to themselves. They aren’t flashy but they are good. And while everyone else had their eyes focused on the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays are on the rise once again.

McKay is Rays #1 Draft Pick:

They might use him as a hitter, or they might use him as a pitcher. Either way, Tampa Bay picked up one heck of an athlete in the first round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft.

 

With the fourth overall pick, the Rays selected Brendan McKay from Louisville. A first baseman and a right-handed pitcher, McKay has won the John Olerud award the last three years. The award is given annually to the best two-way player in college baseball. At the plate this season, McKay hit .343 with 17 home runs (four of which came in one game vs. Eastern Kentucky), 56 RBIs, 13 doubles, and 54 runs scored. On the mound, he was 10-3 with a 2.34 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 104 innings of work. McKay’s glove work also should not be overlooked as he had a .984 fielding percentage. Your text to link…

 

But the honors do not stop there. Baseball America selected him as its National Player of the Year, and he is also a finalist for the Dick Howser Award for college baseball’s top player. No surprise, he was voted the ACC Player of the Year. Before this season, McKay was an All-ACC First Team selection in 2015 and 2016, landed on a number of All-American teams, and was selected as the Collegiate Baseball Freshman of the Year. McKay’s selection by Tampa Bay comes as Louisville gears up for the College World Series.

 

The Rays have had a pretty decent track record with Number One draft picks. B.J. (now Melvin) Upton had a very productive time with the team before moving on to the Braves, Padres, and now Blue Jays. Evan Longoria is considered the face of the franchise, and David Price was a four-time All-Star and a Cy Young winner during his time in Tampa Bay.