Results tagged ‘ Kyle Farnsworth ’
It hasn’t been an ideal start to the year for the Tampa Bay Rays. With one quarter of the season already behind us, the Rays currently stand at an even 20-20.
The’ve really underachieved overall as a team, as things simply aren’t falling into place for them just yet.
With a strong offense and a struggling bullpen, it’s looked like 2009 all over again so far for Tampa Bay. They missed the playoffs and finished the season with just 84 wins that year, so Rays fans hope their team is not going down a similar path.
After the first 40 games of the 2013 season, here’s a graded evaluation of the Rays’ offense, starting rotation, bullpen and defense.
The Rays currently have the third best offense in Major League Baseball with a wRC+ of 108.
Evan Longoria and James Loney have both enjoyed red-hot starts to the season. Longoria has posted a .417 wOBA and Loney is leading the league in batting at .367.
Kelly Johnson and Sean Rodriguez have both been pleasant surprises. Johnson’s posted a 119 wRC+ and Rodriguez has looked like a much-improved hitter, putting up a .326 wOBA in 60 plate appearances.
Below’s a chart of every player’ wOBA compared to their preseason projections (Fangraphs’ ZIPS projections):
Overall Grade: A-
With statistically one of the league’s best offenses, I thought the Rays deserved a high grade here. The difference between an A- and an A+ for me was the first two weeks of the season where the offense was anemic. Since late April, however, the lineup has been scorching hot.
“Disappointing” is the best word to describe the Rays’ starting rotation at the first quarter mark. Tampa’s starters have posted a collective 4.05 ERA (16th in MLB) and a 4.22 FIP (18th in MLB).
Shockingly, the starting pitching struggles have stemmed from the rotation’s front two: David Price and Jeremy Hellickson. Price—who’s now on the 15-day DL—is 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA through nine starts and Hellickson is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA through eight.
There has been two bright spots in the rotation, however, as youngsters Matt Moore and Alex Cobb have both shined. Moore is an impressive 7-0 with a 2.44 ERA and a 9.56 K/9, while Cobb is 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA and a rotation-leading WAR of 0.9.
Roberto Hernandez has been nothing more than decent in his first seven starts. He’s 2-4 with a 4.43 ERA, but he’s actually looked pretty encouraging. His career-high 8.65 K/9 rate, 3.43 SIERA and 3.45 xFIP are possibly signs of a comeback year for Hernandez.
Overall Grade: C-
What was expected to be one of the better bullpens in baseball as turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. Tampa’s ‘pen ranks fourth worst in the league in ERA (4.67) and sixth worst in FIP (4.04).
Closer Fernando Rodney has been suprisingly lousy so far, blowing three saves in 10 opportunities to go along with a 5.28 ERA and a pair of losses. Jake McGee (8.80 ERA), Kyle Farnsworth (6.52 ERA), Jamey Wright (4.24 ERA) and Brandon Gomes (5.40 ERA) have all struggled as well.
The Rays have held leads in 34 of their 40 games this season, and have blown countless leads late in games. The bullpen is simply going to have to improve if the Rays want a shot at competing in October.
Overall Grade: D
They have the best defensive corner-infield combo in the game with Evan Longoria and James Loney, Longoria, as usual, has been nothing short of amazing this season, leading the team with a 3.8 UZR as he continues to play like a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.
In the outfield, Desmond Jennings has done a fine job adjusting to centerfield, posting a 3.2 UZR. Sam Fuld and Matt Joyce haven’t done a very good job in the corners, but Fuld still covers plenty of ground and Kelly Johnson has bolstered the outfield defense a bit.
Johnson’s also played very well at second base thus far, owning a 0.8 UZR at the position.
At shortstop, Yunel Escobar has proven to be the defensive upgrade he was signed for. He gives the Rays the adequate-fielding everyday shortstop they haven’t had since Jason Bartlett in 2010.
As for the Rays’ catching tandem, both Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton have been below average in terms of throwing out runners and blocking pitching. It’s obviously a big minus for the overall defense, but it doesn’t erase the fact that Molina is the best framing catcher in the game.
Overall Grade: B
The Rays capped off spring training in Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon, tying the Tigers 3-3.
Matt Moore, who has struggled throughout the spring, had a much improved start in this game. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and struck out five.
All of Tampa’s offense came from three solo home runs off the bats of Ryan Roberts, James Loney and Sean Rodriguez.
Five of the Rays’ seven relievers made appearances Saturday, each of them tossing one inning each. Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney all had scoreless outings. Jamey Wright allowed two runs on two hits and Jake McGee gave up a run on two hits.
The Rays finish Grapefruit League play with a 15-17-2 record. Their next game is Opening Day at the Trop versus the Baltimore Orioles, David Price will make the first pitch of the season at 3:10 ET.
Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s exhibition.
Rays News and Notes:
- Luke Scott has been placed on the DL, and is out for a minimum of 2-3 weeks with a strained right calf. The Rays will announce his replacement today, with Brandon Guyer possibly the favorite for the job.
- Buster Posey and Justin Verlander both inked huge contracts Saturday. Verlander’s record deal just reaffirms that the Rays won’t be able to afford David Price long term, Buster Olney tweets.
The Rays fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-4 Saturday afternoon, marking their fourth straight Grapefruit League loss.
David Price was on the mound for Tampa Bay, and had rather shaky outing. He escaped multiple jams, ending the day with 2 earned runs allowed on 9 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts over 5 innings (89 pitches). Price spoke about his start after the game, frustrated with his efficiency.
The two biggest offensive performances of the day came from Yunel Escobar (2-3, RBI) and Jose Lobaton (3-3, HR), who continues to be the favorite for the backup catcher job Opening Day
James Loney hit a run-scoring double and Evan Longoria also had a two-bagger. In the field, Longoria committed his first error of the spring, which cost the Rays a run in this ballgame.
Relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Cesar Ramos both made appearances Saturday out of the ‘pen. It wasn’t a good day at all for Farnsworth, who allowed a run in just 1/3 innings and had to be removed from the game after bruising his right middle finger while reaching for a groundball.
Ramos was perfect in his 2/3 inning pitched, striking out one.
Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s game.
Rays News and Notes:
- The Rays reassigned INF Cole Figueroa, INF Leslie Anderson, OF Rich Thompson, RHP Kirby Yates and RHP Dane De La Rosa to minor league camp Saturday in their latest round of cuts.
- The Rays also released Jack Cust, who was signed just a little over a month ago.
- Joe Maddon said he’ll make the fifth starter decision by the middle of next week. Jeff Niemann struggled in his last outing Friday, and his competition Roberto Hernandez was outstanding in his last start. This should be very interesting.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wonders if the Rays could use both Niemann and Hernandez in the rotation.
- Injury update: Sam Fuld (hamstring tightness) will be ready for Opening Day. He’s looked good in recent minor-league spring training action lately, and is returning to Grapefruit League play today.
- Meet the newest member of the Rays TV crew: Kelly Nash.
- Here’s my list of the top 10 Cy Young candidates for 2013.
As the MLB offseason gradually comes to a conclusion and spring training nears, Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays know exactly what their priorities are this spring in order to put the best roster possible on the field for Opening Day.
With a handful of new names on the team this season, Maddon will have his share of tough choices to make when roster cuts and decisions come around in late March.
Here are the five main things that will be on Maddon’s spring training to-do list.
Put the Rotation Together
The Rays are heading into another season with a terrific starting rotation, which is both very deep and talented.
The three frontline starters are clear at the moment: David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. After that, Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann, Chris Archer, and possibly even the newly-acquired Jake Odorizzi and Roberto Hernandez are all options to be the back two starters in the rotation.
Spring training performance is obviously going to play a large factor in deciding which pitchers make the rotation. Still, though, Maddon is going to have some very tough decisions to make before finalizing the roster at the end of March.
Tampa has the keys for another successful bullpen in 2013. GM Andrew Friedman did his job picking up all the essential arms needed, now all Joe Maddon has to do is put the ‘pen together for Opening Day.
Right now the sure locks are Fernando Rodney (who will most likely take over the closer role), Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and Kyle Farnsworth. Lefty specialist Cesar Ramos and former starter Roberto Hernandez are other possible candidates, along with recent acquisitions Juan Carlos Oviedo and Jamey Wright.
The Rays are going to have only seven relievers on their Opening Day roster, so one of those eight won’t make the cut.
We can expect to see some great bullpen competition this spring in Port Charlotte, and it should be very interesting to see how the new veteran arms impact the team.
Figuring out the Second Base Situation
One position on the diamond definitely not lacking depth for the Rays this year is second base. Tampa Bay recently signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal to be their starting second basemen, but they still have two other second basemen on the depth chart without Ben Zobrist (who will reportedly still play “a lot” of second base).
Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez are still on the roster, and there are a few things that Maddon can do to make this work.
It’s likely that Rodriguez—assuming that he makes the 25-man roster—will play very little second base and be used more as a backup shortstop/pinch runner. Ryan Roberts would backup Johnson at second, but also be used at third and as a pinch hitter.
The Rays seem to be already planning on having Johnson fill in a little in the outfield as well, so Zobrist will probably get his share of playing time at second too.
Deciding What to Do With Wil Myers
Top prospect Wil Myers will be the Rays’ biggest storyline during spring training, and should bring a pretty good amount of attention to Port Charlotte.
As of now, the starting outfield looks like it will be Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist. The one outfield bench spot is up for grabs, but the Rays won’t want to start their No. 1 prospect’s season on the bench at the young age of 22.
Unless Myers goes on an absolute tear this spring, he’ll be starting the season with Triple-A Durham. But if he shines bright enough in the Grapefruit League, don’t be surprised to see Maddon stick him in the Opening Day lineup.
Ordering the Lineup
In recent years, the Rays have put out maybe the most inconsistent lineup in all of baseball. It seems like Joe Maddon manages to put together a different lineup every single game and has tried out ever possible order and combination possible.
Don’t expect to see much different in 2013. However, Maddon will still be on a mission to find which players he’s going to put in different parts of the lineup and what kind of pattern he might try to experiment with in April.
The Rays made some noise this week in what has been one quiet month in the offseason.
Andrew Friedman signed a quartet of free agents to minor league contracts on Tuesday, including right-handed relievers Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez), Jamey Wright and Juan Sandoval, as well as OF Shelley Duncan. He added to the FA shopping spree Thursday by re-signing veteran righty Kyle Farnsworth and left-handed DH Luke Scott.
Oviedo, 30, saved 92 games during his three seasons with the Marlins (2009-2011), where he posted a 3.86 ERA through 198.0 IP. Due to a suspension for identity fraud and an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, he didn’t pitch at all in the majors in 2012. Unfortunately for the Rays, Oviedo is going to miss most of this season as well to recover, which is why they added a 2014 option to his contract.
Shelley Duncan, the second biggest name in these signings, was a rather interesting pick-up. Back in a 2008 spring training game between Tampa Bay and the Yankees, Duncan started a bench-clearing brawl by purposely sliding hard into second baseman Akinori Iwamura. The 33-year-old right-handed power hitter will provide some depth in the corner outfield positions and might even end up at DH if the Rays fail to sign someone. Duncan is a .229/.306/.427 lifetime hitter who hit 11 homers and less than 50 RBI during each of his last three seasons with Cleveland, where he averaged 80 games per season. With that mediocre production and below-average defense, hopefully the Rays can find somebody better qualified in the next month to serve as the team’s DH.
Jamey Wright, a 38-year-old reliever with 17 years of MLB experience, could very possibly give Tampa’s ‘pen a nice boost. A very affordable option, Wright has proven to be one of the better groundball specialists in the league. Over the past three seasons with Seattle and Los Angeles, he’s posted a groundball percentage of 62.4%. That’s better than Burke Badenhop’s rate, who Wright could very likely replace in the bullpen.
Thirty-two year-old Juan Sandoval completes the trio of right-handed relievers acquired by the Rays Tuesday. Sandoval has never pitched in the big leagues, but he has spent the last two season in the Mexican League at the Triple-A level. One very intriguing fact about Sandoval is that he’s blind in one eye due to a pellet gun accident.
As for Kyle Farnsworth, well, Rays fans already know what kind of contributions he can give to the ‘pen. Farnsworth posted a 4.00 ERA with 8.3 K/9 through just 27 innings last year after missing most of the season due to an elbow injury. However, he had a career year as the team’s closer in 2011 when he went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 25 saves.
Tampa Bay continued their busy Thursday by making another re-signing, but this one a bit more surprising. Lacking an adequate designated hitter, the Rays went out and signed Luke Scott despite declining his $6 million option in October and paying for his $1 million buyout. Scott had disappointing 2012 season with the Rays, batting just .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and 55 RBI through just 96 games.
So, what does this flurry recent acquisitions mean for the current state of the Rays?
The bullpen now appears to be set with the additions of Farnsworth, Oviedo and Wright. The offensive depth just got better as well, as the Rays added both a right-handed and left-handed power bat in Shelley Duncan and Luke Scott.
Bats such as Travis Hafner, Juan Rivera, Carlos Lee, Jim Thome, Dan Johnson and Aubrey Huff are still available on the market, but the Rays are more than likely done with free agent signings this offseason as the roster seems to be set. Scott will probably end up as the starting DH as he was last year, and the Rays appear to be going with Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton as their two catchers to start the season.
It’s nice to see Friedman get the job done again this offseason by filling in all of the holes in the roster by the most affordable means possible. Rays fans should be confident that their team will have yet another successful bullpen in 2013, as Tampa once again displayed their ability to reconstruct what could potentially be one of baseball’s better ‘pens.
As the arbitration deadline passed Friday, the Rays avoided arbitration hearings by signing Jeff Niemann, Ryan Roberts, Sam Fuld and Matt Joyce all to one year deals.
Niemann, who was injured most of last season, will earn $3 million in 2013. Joyce will make $2.45 million, which is nearly $2 million more than what he made last season. Ryan Roberts will receive $2.95 million, and Sam Fuld will get $750 thousand.
Tampa Bay fortunately won’t have deal with any arbitration hearings this February, as David Price and Sean Rodriguez already agreed to one-year contracts weeks ago.
Other Rays News and Notes:
- The Rays are searching for a center fielder, says ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Stark even suggested that Tampa could be a possible landing spot for the free agent market’s current top prize Michael Bourn. The only centerfielders on the market right now are Scott Podsednik and Grady Sizemore, with Arizona’s Gerardo Parra potentially on the trading block. Desmond Jennings is the team’s starting centerfielder at the moment, and it will likely be that way on Opening Day.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post also tuned in on the Rays’ centerfield search. He suggested that Dexter Fowler could make up a potential trade package, considering that Denver likes Jeremy Hellickson.
- FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi takes an in-depth look at Price’s new contract.
- The Rays continue to show interest in re-signing reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
- The Rays hosted their annual prospect development camp last week.
As the Fall Classic concludes and the 2012 baseball season comes to an end, it’s time to look forward into what the winter has in store for the Rays. Like last offseason, Andrew Friedman and the Rays will have some tough choices to make before players report to spring training.
First in line in Tampa’s offseason priorities is their club options, which must all be dealt with this week. Out of the four on the list, the only sure ‘yes’ is Fernando Rodney ($2.5 million). Next is Luke Scott, who hit just .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in 344 plate appearances this season. With that kind of production at DH and his lack of ability to stay healthy, the chances of the Rays bringing him back in 2013 for $6 million are very slim.
The Rays hold a $10.25 million on veteran James Shields, who will be one of the main storylines throughout the winter. If they decide not to pick up the option—which is very likely—than they’ll immediately look for suitable deals for a blockbuster trade. As much as the organization prides themselves on excellent starting pitching, they really could use some young offensive talent as well.
The toughest club option decision for the Rays will be Jose Molina. The 37-year-old catcher did a nice job with the pitching staff but didn’t produce well offensively (.284 wOBA through 274 PA’s). At $1.5 million, don’t be surprised to see the Rays exercise his option in order to bring his veteran presence back to the roster.
As for Tampa’s free agents this offseason, the list includes B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Ryan Roberts, Jeff Keppinger and J.P. Howell. It looks like the Rays will part ways with Upton after his many years of service, which means they’ll have one less outfielder in 2013. There is a question to as if the Rays will give Upton a qualifying offer (one year for $13.3 million), however, which would land them a compensatory draft pick if he declines. If the Rays do go ahead and extend a qualifying offer, chances are he’ll turn it down and hit the market in pursuit of a huge long-term team.
Carlos Pena—who hit an MLB-worst .197 with just 19 homers and 61 RBI—is another big name who will likely be missing from the lineup in 2013, meaning the Rays will likely shop the market again this winter for first basemen.
As for the rest of the FA’s, all have a pretty decent chance of returning next season. The Rays would love to bring back Jeff Keppinger after his suprisingly good 2012 season. Keppinger can play three different positions in the infield while serving as an excellent contact hitter who can get the job done at the plate. After hitting .325 last season in his 418 plate appearances, he should be able to earn more than the $1.5 million he made last year.
Ryan Roberts is another player that can provide some infield versatility as well as some power in his bat, and the Rays will probably work on re-signing him as well.
As for the bullpen, it will be interesting to see how they handle free agents Peralta, Farnsworth and Howell. I think it’s safe to say Howell will be back in the ‘pen next season after the fine comeback year he had, posting an ERA a tad over 3 in over 50 innings of work. As for Farnsworth and Peralta though, both are much more of a question mark at the age of 36.
The next offseason topic to talk about is how the Rays will adress their areas of need. The three main holes on the roster are at first base, catcher and DH. They’ll probably seek some help in the outfield, shortstop and in the bullpen as well.
Ben Zobrist made a smooth transition to shortstop towards the end of the year, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays decide to make him their starting shortstop next season or continue to search outside the organization. Either way, we can expect to see the Rays sign another middle infielder, such as a Jeff Keppinger or Ryan Roberts type player.
With James Shields and numerous talented pitching prospects, the Rays have the necessary pieces to make a trade that could fill up some of the gaps on the roster. 1B Ike Davis, SS Elvis Andrus, SS Yunel Escobar, C J.P. Arencibia, 1B Eric Hosmer and INF Jed Lowrie are all players who will probably be up for trade this winter.
There are a handful of FA options as well. James Loney seems to be a very realistic possibility at the moment. If the Red Sox decide not resign him—which is about a 50/50 chance—then he would definitely become an affordable option for the Rays at first base. 2B Skip Schumaker, INF Stephen Drew, 1B/DH Lance Berkman, OF Coco Crisp, RP Matt Capps, RP Ryan Madson and INF Maicer Izturis are other names to keep an eye on as well.
The Rays have been battling injuries all season long, but their AL East title hopes are still very much alive. Despite having a double-digit amount of players on the disabled list, the Rays have been able to hold their ground in baseball’s toughest division.
The team’s leader, Evan Longoria, has missed almost a month now with a hamstring injury. Incredibly, the Rays have managed to stay atop the division (now tied) and have actually gained a game on the Yankees since Longoria went down on the final day of April. But Longoria was just one of numerous injuries that caused the Rays to play shorthanded throughout the month of May. Leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings, Jeff Keppinger, Brandon Allen, Jeff Niemann and Brandon Guyer (out for the season) have all hit the DL this month, essentially weakening every part of their game to some extent.
Yet somehow the Rays have continued to win ballgames. How role players have stepped up with Longoria on the sidelines is what really tells me that the Rays will be able to fight through their injury issues and prevail with the division. Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Will Rhymes and Drew Sutton have all contributed to replace Longoria at the hot corner. While Longo was hitting .329/.433/.561 with 19 RBI and 168 wRC+ before he hurt his hammy, here’s how the five fared:
Longoria made up for the lack of production from Rodriguez and Johnson, which is why there was obviously a major concern when he was put on the DL and was reported to miss over up to two months. To many’s surprise, the Rays had all five of Longoria’s replacements work together to put up some impressive numbers offensively following the injury:
If these five can keep up the good work for about another month—when Longoria could possibly to return—the Rays will stay on the right track and escape what could’ve been a disastrous fall in the standings. Once Longoria returns, the Rays will only get better, as his defense at third and his big-time power has been dearly missed
Longoria is not the only player that could help the Rays run away with the division once he returns. The Rays have yet to unleash the full potential of their base-running game, as the Rays’ three biggest threats on the bases—Desmond Jennings, Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton—have yet to play a single game together this season. As I said before, the Rays’ injury issues have negatively impacted every part of their game, and base-running has been a big one. Once Jennings returns (likely later this week), the Rays will get an instant boost on the base paths as they get back their talented stolen-base duo of Jennings and Upton.
Barring any more injuries, the Rays will also be bolstered by the return of Jose Lobaton, Jeff Keppinger and Kyle Farnsworth. Jose Lobaton provides the Rays with the switch-hitting catcher they need, as Chris Gimenez has hit just 0.59 off of right-handed pitching this season. Keppinger gives the Rays’ offense a huge boost against left-handed pitching (.417 against lefties this season), as well as some extra depth in the infield. And Farnsworth gives the ‘pen another good righty, which is preferable over the likes of Joel Peralta or Burke Badenhop late in games, considering the terrific job he did last year.
The Rays’s starting rotation, which—besides Matt Moore—is everything hyped up to be, is another reason to believe the Rays have what it takes win the AL East. It is once again the division’s best rotation, and it has continued to carry the Rays through these brutal injuries. Jeff Niemann, who has had a strong start to the season, broke his leg right when he started to heat up and really find his groove at the back end of the rotation. Luckily for the Rays, they happen to have the best starting pitching depth is baseball, and found an effective replacement for Niemann in Alex Cobb. Since being called up, Cobb is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA through his two starts. I believe with six starters as good as these, the Rays will simply out-pitch their AL East opponents just as they’ve done in the past years.
One more thing to consider when discussing which team is the favorite to win the AL East is the injury problems amongst the Rays’ competition.
Boston currently has seven outfielders on the DL, including stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Their pitching is their biggest weakness, injuries to three starters (Aaron Cook, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka) and their closer Andrew Bailey (likely won’t return until August) a big reason why.
The Yankees also have their share of injuries, as pretty much half of their bullpen is on the disabled list, including Mariano Rivera (out for the season), Joba Chamberlain (likely out for the season), and David Robertson. They’re also missing a much-needed solid starter in Michael Pineda, who will miss all of 2012 as well.
Even the Orioles, who have had a great start to the 2012 season, have been affected by injuries. The big bats of Nolan Reimold, Mark Reynolds and Brian Roberts are all on the DL. Starter Zach Britton—a potential key piece in Baltimore’s rotation—is also hurt.
Although the Rays have been bombarded with injuries right from the get go, their AL East foes by no means have been injury-free either. With the Rays having the benefit of less long-term injuries than than the Sox and Yankees thus far this season, I believe they’ll use that as an advantage down the stretch. As for the Orioles, well, the Rays hope their early-season success is just a fluke and they won’t be in the pennant race once October comes calling.
The Rays 25-man Opening Day roster is officially set for today’s game. Josh Lueke has been called up to replace Kyle Farnsworth, who joins B.J. Upton, Sam Fuld and Robinson Chirinos on the DL.
RH Burke Badenhop
RH Wade Davis
RH Jeremy Hellickson
LH J.P. Howell
RH Josh Lueke
LH Jake McGee
LH Matt Moore
RH Jeff Niemann
RH Joel Peralta
LH David Price
RH Fernando Rodney
RH James Shields
The latest Rays news and notes:
- The Rays claimed left-handed reliever John Gaub off waivers yesterday, replacing Matt Bush’s spot on the 40-man roster. Gaub, who went 4-4 with a 3.42 ERA and 7 saves for Triple-A Iowa last season, won’t start the season on the 25-man roster.
- We know how Joe Maddon loves to platoon, be he still surprised most of us yesterday when he set the lineup for today’s game. Elliot Johnson and Jeff Keppinger will start, while Luke Scott is left out of the lineup. With southpaw C.C. Sabathia starting, we see a lineup with only two lefties today (Matt Joyce and Carlos Pena). Keppinger, who has absolutely no power but has good number against Sabathia, will bat in the cleanup spot. Elliot Johnson also has pretty good numbers against C.C., which is why he’s batting in the sixth hole. It’s still a little bit of a head-scratcher, but we’ll see how Maddon’s experiment works this afternoon. Here’s the full lineup below:
- Desmond Jennings, CF
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Evan Longoria, 3B
- Jeff Keppinger, DH
- Sean Rodriguez, SS
- Elliot Johnson, 2B
- Carlos Pena, 1B
- Jose Molina, C
- Matt Joyce, LF
- Another season of Meet the Rays is underway at TampaBay.com. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times interviews the Rays players one by one. Click here for a trailer.
- Fifty ESPN MLB experts made their preseason predictions on Wednesday, and it seems like they’re giving the Rays plenty of respect. Here’s a breakdown of it over at RaysIndex.com.
- MLB.com’s Jim Hawkins writes an interesting piece on Stephen Vogt’s ‘scenic route’ to the Major Leagues.
The latest Rays news and notes:
- The Rays tied the Red Sox 7-7 yesterday, as three big home runs avoided the Rays losing their 17th spring game despite some sloppy play. Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, and Luke Scott all belted solo homers. Some other notable offensive performances came from Jose Lobaton (3-4 with two RBI) and Sean Rodriguez (2-4 with an RBI). Pitching wise, the Rays just did not have it yesterday. Jeff Niemann was scratched from his scheduled start with a nasty blister on his pitching hand, so the Rays went with the bullpen throughout the whole game. Kyle Farnsworth started the game allowing a run through his one inning pitched, then Joel Peralta and Burke Badenhop followed with scoreless outings. Wade Davis pitched three innings and allowed five runs, but only one earned. Still, he let up five hits, which is evidence that he wasn’t on his A-game Saturday. Boston only put out one Major League hitter throughout the entire game, which concerns me a bit. The Rays’ four errors were the biggest reason for the lost, something that’s very uncharacteristic of them. Click here for a full boxscore of yesterday’s game.
- The Rays added to their Triple-A depth yesterday, acquiring outfielder Kyle Hudson from the Texas Rangers for future considerations. Hudson, 25, hit .296 with 41 stolen in the minors last season (A+, AAA, AAA). The 5’11 left-hander has absolutely no power, but he has good speed and some contact ability. I had a feeling the Rays would make a minor league move within this week after hearing Andrew Friedman on a live telecast yesterday saying that he’d like to have a little bit more position player depth. It only took a few hours before Friedman pulled off a deal.
- The Rays continue to narrow down their roster, as Jesus Feliciano and Will Rhymes were reassigned to minor league camp yesterday. The latest round of cuts leaves Jeff Salazar as the front-funner for the backup outfielder job, but of course, Brandon Guyer still has a pretty good shot.