Category: Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Hold on for Win Against White Sox

The Tampa Bay Rays won the third and decisive game of their series with the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field. The win for the Rays continued a stretch that has seen them play very well. Manager Kevin Cash has been very pleased with what he has seen so far in the 2017 season. The Rays record is now 31-31. This is certainly a quantum leap from the 2016 campaign which saw them buried in last place of the American League’s eastern division.

 

The most recent win against the White Sox did not come without some adversity. The Rays jumped out to a 6-0 nothing lead. The team then lost their aggressiveness and failed to keep adding on to their lead. The White Sox mounted a spirited comeback that was almost successful. The White Sox roared back and made it 6-5. However, Colby Rasmus blasted a homer in the bottom of the eighth inning for an insurance run the Rays were happy to get. Alex Colome pitched the ninth inning to nail down the 7-5 victory. Kevin Cash said that this game should serve as a cautionary tale moving forward. He added that you can never let your foot off the gas pedal at this level. You need to keep tacking on runs no matter how big of a lead you get.

 

Cash has been especially pleased with the way his closer has pitched. Colome has quickly developed into one of the best stoppers in the game. Rays catcher Derek Norris also had a big game against the White Sox. He hit a couple of homers off Derek Holland. Peter Bourjos added a solo homer of his own. This continued the trend this season of the Rays hitting homers in bunches. It was a triumphant return for Bourjos. He had been on the disabled list because of a problem with his elbow. This was his first game back. The Rays remain convinced they will be a factor in the playoff race.

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.

 

Rays Post Solid Win Against Marlins

Wins came very infrequently for the Tampa Bay Rays during their miserable 2016 season. However, 2017 is off to a much better start for the club. Manager Kevin Cash is very pleased with the way his team has performed through the first month of the season. He admits that the team has yet to fully gel because of some injuries. However, he feels that the team’s performance so far this year is more representative of their overall talent than last year. The team put together a solid performance to notch a 4-2 win over the Miami Marlins in the first game of their series at Marlins Park.

 

Kevin Kiermaier is a player who is best known for being a defensive wizard in center field. He has taken home Gold Gloves because of it. However, his skill on the bases is what shined through in this particular game. He was able to slide into second base and prevent the Marlins from turning a double play in the process. This occurred in the seventh inning. The result was the Rays scoring a run that put them ahead. It is just another example of Kiermaier’s hustle that has made him a favorite of his manager and loved by his teammates.

 

Marcell Ozuna had belted a home run in the fourth inning that had tied the score. The game was very significant for the Rays because it marked the return of starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. He had been on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. Overall, it was a successful start for Jake. He wound up pitching five innings and giving up a pair of runs. Wei-Yin Chen also gave up a pair of runs in six innings of work on the Marlins side of the ledger.

 

Brad Miller had a very successful night on the base paths. He was able to steal a pair of bases. These were the first two steals of the season for him. He stole second and third in the eighth inning. It turns out this was the perfect time for those steals to occur. Miller was able to score when Daniel Robertson drove him home with a single. The run gave the Rays some insurance in their eventual 4-2 victory.

 

Colby Rasmus Will Play First Game for Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have never been big players in the free agent market. Being a small market team has required them to sign average free agents to cheap contracts. They continued that tradition last off-season when they signed veteran outfielder Colby Rasmus to a one-year contract for a very affordable $5 million. Rasmus can also earn incentives totaling $2 million if he reaches all of them. Unfortunately, Rasmus has not been a part of the team for the first month of the 2017 season. He had successful hip surgery during the off-season that he was still recovering from in April. Rasmus will now make his Rays debut.

 

Shane Peterson was designated for assignment in order to make room for Rasmus on the roster of the Rays. Manager Kevin Cash was very pleased with Peterson’s performance during April. Cash said that it would be great if Peterson would play in the minor leagues for the Rays. However, he wants another team to pick up Peterson so he has another chance to play in the Major Leagues.

 

Rasmus said that it took him longer to recover than he thought it would. There were no complications with the surgery. His body just needed longer to heal than the doctors anticipated. The Rays have done a very good job of scoring runs without Rasmus in the lineup. This has been a surprise because the Rays did not have a good offense last year. Rasmus hit 25 home runs in 2015 for the Houston Astros. That was the most home runs he had ever hit in a single season. He will he a solid power threat for the Rays if he is able to stay healthy.

 

Health has been a major concern for Rasmus throughout his entire career. He has only played more than 150 games once in his career. Manager Kevin Cash said they will be easing Rasmus into the lineup and giving him a light workload. Cash hopes that this will allow Rasmus to get acclimated to the grind of playing baseball every day. Rasmus will be given a couple of days off each week until Cash feels that Rasmus is strong enough to play in the outfield every day. Cash said that Rasmus will also be seeing some time at designated hitter during the next few weeks.

 

Ray’s Odorizzi Set to Return to the Starting Rotation on May 1st

The Tampa Bay Rays will welcome Jake Odorizzi back to the rotation on May 1st. Odorizzi left his last start on April 15th in Boston, with tightness in his right hamstring. It was a disappointing turn of events for Odorizzi and the Rays as he had just come off an impressive two-hit six-inning performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

 

Since the injury occurred to his lower body, the Ray’s training staff has been able to keep Odorizzi’s arm fresh during the two-week period he has been shelved with the hammy issue. One aspect of his last full start was the 9 ground ball outs that Odorizzi recorded against the Jay’s power-laden lineup. It was a profound improvement over the first start of the season against the Yankees.

 

 

Odorizzi was not only taken out of the park twice in that April 4th opener, but 17 times he his pitches were taken out of the infield. While Odorizzi has posted moderately encouraging strikeout numbers during his career – 524 K’s in a total of 575 innings at the Major League level – he has seen relative success when he can keep the ball down in the strike zone. In each of the first two full starts, he also managed to finish 6 full innings using just over 100 pitches each time.

 

 

Odorizzi’s most successful stints in his career have all come when he pitches efficiently. Without an imposing lineup of hitters to put up a lot of runs, it’s going to be crucial for Tampa Bay to pitch efficiently. When any of the Ray’s top 5 starters miss a beat, that will put a burden on a suspect bullpen. They will not only have to make spot starts in the event of injury, but also work more innings when the starters cannot efficiently navigate their way into the late innings.

 

Erasmo Ramirez filled in admirably in two spot starts, taking Odorizzi’s turn in the rotation, but Ramirez is usually only good for 50 to 60 pitches, so without Odorizzi the middle relievers in the Ray’s bullpen have to carry an extra load. On Monday, the Rays will optimistically hope for the type of strong performance from Odorizzi, which was the reason why they traded him away from the Kansas City Royals in 2012. If the Ray’s pitching staff doesn’t overachieve in 2017, it could make for a long season at The Trop.

 

Rays Outfielders Off to Strong 2017 starts

Offense may be slowly returning to the Bay.

 

A year ago, the Tampa Bay Rays batted .243 and averaged only 4.15 runs per game. The sad part was that the Rays averaged 3.98 runs in 2015 and 3.78 runs in 2014. The last time that the Rays scored 700 runs in a season was in 2013 – when they scored exactly 700. That 2013 total also is the most the Rays have scored in a season since they piled up 802 runs in 2010.

 

Truth is, in recent years, the Rays have almost exclusively relied on pitching and defense. When the team ERA went down to 4.20 in 2016, the Rays went through 68-94 campaign even as the team produced slightly more on offense.

 

Yet, Tampa Bay is off to a 12-12 start this season and are averaging 4.54 runs per game. That would average to slightly over 735 runs scored in a season. The Rays are doing this despite slow starts from midfielder Brad Miller (30 HRs in 2016, but .217-1-10 in 2017) and third baseman Evan Longoria (.226-4-13).

 

The reason why Tampa Bay is doing well offensively have a lot to do with their outfield. Left fielder Corey Dickerson and right fielder Steven Souza or off to strong starts and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier started well before an illness caused him to go into a slump.

 

A year after struggling to adjust from leaving Coors Field in Colorado, left fielder Corey Dickerson is batting .329 with six homers and 10 RBIs. Dickerson came to Tampa a year ago in order to help the Rays produce better at the plate, but struggled to a .245 campaign though he did hit 24 homers. Seeds of him righting himself came late in 2016 when he batted .307 in the month of September.

 

Meanwhile, Souza entered the season as a career .234 hitter. He batted .247 with 17 homers in 2016. Souza is off to a hot start in hitting .326 with four homers and a team-high 17 RBIs.

 

Kiermaier was hitting a respectable .294 as of April 21 before an 0-for-18 slump dropped him down to .231. He suffered through a virus last week which may have partially explained his slump.

 

All three of the starting outfielders are 27 or 28. Combined with 27-year-old shortstop Tim Beckham, the former overall No. 1 who is finally starting to produce, the Rays may have found their new offensive core provided their improved hitting form can hold to a degree for the remainder of the season.

 

 

Plenty of Optimism Around Rays Future

While the Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the more competitive teams in baseball over the past decade, the team did take a bit of a step back during the 2016 regular season. By the end of the year, the team was in last place and finished 25 games behind the eventual division winner, the Boston Red Sox. While the team did not have a great year, a recent news article points out that there is some reason for optimism for the 2017 season and beyond (http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/tampa-bay-rays-2017-season-preview-will-new-faces-lead-to-new-results/).

 

The 2017 Tampa Bay Rays will have a lot of familiar faces on the team. After a whole offseason of rumors that star player Evan Longoria would be traded, he will remain on the team for the start of the season. While there is a good chance that he could be dealt, he does expect to play a vital role for the team this year. He will likely bat third in a lineup that will also feature Brad Miller and Steven Souza, two players that had very productive years the prior year.

 

While the team does return a lot of talent that should be helpful in the team development, most people are more excited about the amount of talent in the farm system. Overall, the Rays are considered to have one of the five best farm systems in all of baseball. They have been able to accumulate some top talent thanks to several successful trades that have taken place over the past few years.

 

The two players in the farm system that are expected to reach the majors this year and have the most impact are pitchers Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon. Both of these pitchers have had a lot of success in Spring Training this year and appear ready to start games at the major league level. While those two should be up with the team early in the year, there are at least five other players in the minor league system that could be seen on the major league roster by the end of the season during roster expansion.

 

 

Rays Need Newcomers to Perform for Turnaround Season:

Yes, you can expect Evan Longoria to put up solid numbers at the plate. Chris Archer? He did have a good spring training, and could be on track to put his horrible 19-loss season behind him. A 10-6 season may not sound astounding, but it made Jake Odorizzi the Rays best pitcher in 2016. Coming off a 37-save season with a 1.91 ERA, Alex Colome looks to remain a dependable closer.

 

But if Tampa Bay wants to give its rivals in the tough American League Eastern division headaches, they will have to rely a lot on their newcomers.

 

The first of these looked to be catcher Wilson Ramos. A free agent signee in the off season, Ramos hit .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs for the Nationals last year. But a knee injury will keep him sidelined for most of the first half of the season. This means the Rays will have to lean on new pickup Derek Norris behind the plate. He did have 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 125 games for San Diego last year, but needs to up his average from an abysmal .186.

 

While Colome is set at closer, questions remain about the other relievers leading up to him, especially with injuries to Brad Boxberger and Shawn Tolleson. The Rays hope Austin Pruitt can provide effective relief in their place. He fanned 149 batters in 162 innings for AAA Durham last year and was named the Bulls MVP.

 

One of the more exciting players to keep an eye on is former Atlanta Brave Mallex Smith. He has received high marks for his speed and defense, swiping 229 bases in five years in the minors, then 16 in 72 games with the Braves last year. Though he will need to up his average from the .238 mark in 2016. Tampa Bay also strengthened its bench with the addition of veterans Rickie Weeks, Jr. and Peter Bourjas.

 

If the newbies click and the vets perform as expected, 2017 could be an improvement over 2016 for Tampa Bay.

 

Rays Defeat Yankees in Season Opener

The 2017 season for the Tampa Bay Rays got off to a roaring start as they walloped the New York Yankees by a score of 7-3. The great performance in the first game of the season helped to erase many of the bad memories that many of the Rays players had of the 2016 season. The team finished in the cellar of the American League East last year. Needless to say, that is something they are not looking to repeat this year. Rays manager Kevin Cash praised his club after the game. He said the win was a true team effort with many players doing their part to contribute.

 

Masahiro Tanaka got torched in his first start of the year for the Yankees. This was very surprising considering the fact that the right-hander had an earned run average of under one in all four of his spring training starts. He was completely dominant in the spring. He showed no signs of the lack of command that he displayed on Opening Day against the Rays. Tanaka expressed great disappointment in his performance. He claimed that he felt fine physically. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was not concerned about Tanaka during his interview after the game. He knows that it is a long season and every pitcher is going to have a bad start here and there.

 

This was the sixth year in a row that the Yankees have tasted defeat on Opening Day. It is now a team record for most consecutive Opening Day Losses. The previous record was established from 1934-38. Evan Longoria continued his dominance of the Yankees. He hit the 33rd home run of his career against them in 150 games. He has also driven in 101 runs against the Yankees in his career. The third baseman of the Rays says that he can’t explain why he has had so much success against the Yankees over the years. He says that he approaches them the same way he does other teams.

 

Chris Archer pitched well for the Rays in his debut outing for 2017. Logan Morrison also chipped in with a solo homer for the Rays.

Archer Shows Ace Stuff in Opener:

It’s only one game, but if Chris Archer keeps pitching this way, many will forget about the 19 loss season he had in 2016.

 

Archer threw seven innings in Sunday’s season opener for Tampa Bay, allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out five and walking just one. He also received a lot of offensive support early on as the Rays struck for seven runs in the first three innings. That earned Archer his first win of 2017 as Tampa Bay started the year with a 7-2 triumph over the New York Yankees.

 

Perhaps the most telling part of Archer’s performance came in the seventh inning. The Yankees first two batters, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, both reached on singles. Archer retired the next two Yanks, but Brett Gardner singled to load the bases for Gary Sanchez, the runner-up for the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award who had 20 home runs and 42 RBIs in 53 games. But Sanchez grounded out to short, ending the Yankee threat.

 

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he felt it important to let Archer get out of that seventh inning jam himself. Archer said that the Rays did not play a perfect game, but they played well enough to win. He also praised the team’s defense for helping him out. Your text to link…

 

While many focused on the 19 losses Archer had in 2016, he still showed signs that he has what it takes to be a bona fide ace. Five of his nine wins came after the All-Star break. He also tied Chicago’s Chris Sale for second in the American League in strikeouts with 233, while walking only 67.

 

The opening day win was important not only for Archer, but for the team as well as fans, knowing that the 28-year-old righty appears a starter they can depend on. With another good year by Jake Odorizzi, and solid performances by other promising pitchers, Tampa Bay may be able to escape the cellar in 2017.