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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget



Updated: 2017-06-24T19:43:03-04:00

 



Orioles 8, Rays 3: It’s the little things

2017-06-24T19:43:03-04:00

Bullpen collapse dooms solid Faria effort Four pitches in the top of the seventh decided this game. To set the table: Jose Alvarado — in to start the inning for Jacob Faria — walked the lead off man, Seth Smith on six pitches. He was quickly relieved by Jumbo Diaz. On Diaz’s first pitch, Manny Machado laid down a perfect bunt toward Evan Longoria and reached without a throw. But if Jumbo was flustered, he didn’t show it. He followed by striking out Jonathan Schoop on three pitches, finishing him with a nasty slider sweeping out of the zone. He then got ahead of Adam Jones 0-2 before inducing a soft tapper to second. Jones was retired as the runners moved up to second and third for Mark Trumbo. Diaz then quickly got ahead of Trumbo 1-2. He looked to put him away and get out of this dicey inning. Then came the four pitches. With Wilson Ramos set up for another low and away slider, one that Diaz had executed several times in the inning, Jumbo’s offering backed up, staying high and inside for ball two. On the 2-2 pitch, Diaz overthrew a 97 mph fastball, missing badly high. After missing badly on two shots to put away Trumbo, Diaz tried the slider again on 3-2. But he hung this one, and Trumbo ripped it to the wall in left-center for a double, scoring Smith and Machado. 5-3 Orioles. On the very next pitch, Trey Mancini hit a poorly located fastball out to right. 7-3 O’s. And for all intents and purposes, that was the ball game. As for Jacob Faria, he was not as sharp as he has been his first three starts. But then, nobody expects him to be. Yes, his command wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. He was mostly burned by the hit batsman and the longball. For the day, he went 6 innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits, a walk and two hit batters. He struck out seven. 74 of his 108 pitches were strikes. If that’s “bad Jacob,” I’ll gladly take it every fifth day. The Rays fell into a 2-0 hole in the second inning when Faria plunked Trey Mancini on an 0-2 pitch, then gave a homer to Welington Castillo on a 3-2 slider that wasn’t well located. They fell behind further in the third when Adam Jones hit one to straight away center that bounced on top of the wall and over the fence for a solo homer. It was a play that (perhaps) Kevin Kiermaier makes, but the smaller Mallex Smith didn’t really have a shot at. The Rays got back into the game in their half of the third. Tim Beckham led off the inning with a walk, but was quickly erased on a double play. But wait! There’s more! With two out, Mallex Smith drew an eight pitch walk. Then Corey Dickerson hit a one-pitch home run that didn’t get more than 6.9 feet off the ground and traveled about 420 mph into the Dan Johnson seats in right. #Orioles 3 @ #Rays 2 [B3-2o]Corey Dickerson homers (17): line drive to RF (2-run)Exit velocity: 112mph Distance: 359ftAngle: 21° pic.twitter.com/1cA7FMdVe4— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) June 24, 2017 ... but assuming tomorrow is a fine bet. The simplest roster move would be for Ramos to take the roster spot of one of the catchers, Derek Norris or Jesus Sucre. Neither is hitting particularly well, or graded outlandishly on defense. Among major league catchers, Sucre is 21st on the Baseball Prospectus catcher defense leaderboard, while Norris is 57th. Sucre’s contract does not have any options remaining, so he would have to accept an assignment after passing through waivers to stay in the Rays organization, while Norris’s contract does still have two options remaining. Whether Sucre will have earned his keep over the struggling starter is yet to be seen, but the Rays presumably see Ramos as their number one catcher moving forward. Tampa Bay may also prefer to keep all three catchers around, though, and have Wilson Ramos DH some days for an easier transition to major league play. While this is unlikely, Shane Peterson as the “25th man” would be the first to go, but he too does not have contract options remaining. Meanwhile, Brad Boxberger’s reintroduction to the Rays will likely[...]



Rays Series Preview: Orioles look to make history in St. Pete (in a bad way)

2017-06-23T13:58:20-04:00

The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff is on the brink of history. They have allowed five or more runs in 19 straight games. The Major League Baseball record is 20 straight games by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies. During that 19 game streak the Orioles are 6-13 while being outscored 145-84. The Tampa Bay Rays come in winners of four of their last five. In their last 38 games they are 22-16. They currently possess the second wild card and are just 2.5 behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox who are tied at the top of the American League East. The Matchups: Friday 7:10 PM: Ubaldo Jimenez vs Chris Archer Saturday 4:10 PM: Dylan Bundy vs Jacob Faria Sunday 1:10 PM: Chris Tillman vs Jake Odorizzi Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports At least the Orioles rotation isn’t the worst! The Orioles rotation’s 5.61 ERA and 5.37 FIP are both the second worst in all of baseball. The only team worse is the Reds. Their 16.5% strikeout rate is second lowest in baseball. Their 10.0% walk rate is the second highest in baseball. This isn’t a great combination for limiting runs. Ubaldo Jimenez has a 6.94 ERA and 7.08 FIP as a starter. His ERA is crazy high, but it’s been deserving. Jimenez has struck out 15.5% of batters and walked 12.2%. Left handed batters have teed off against Jimenez with a .274/.377/.635 line and .415 wOBA this season. His last start was one of his more effective in recent memory where he allowed two runs (two solo homeruns) in seven innings. In a start earlier this season against the Rays he gave up three runs in 3.1 innings. Dylan Bundy has been the best performing starter for the Orioles. He has a 3.74 ERA and 4.64 FIP. He has a middling 17.3% strikeout rate, but has a solid 7.7% walk rate. Bundy shows relatively little left/right split. Bundy was knocked around for six runs in 4.1 innings in his last outing against the Indians. Earlier this season he held the Rays to two runs (two solo homers) in 6.1 innings. Chris Tillman has been one of the better starting pitchers for the Orioles in recent years. This year started with an injury in spring training that caused him to miss the start of the season. In his nine starts he has a 8.39 ERA and 6.52 FIP. His strikeout rate has tanked to 12.9% and his walks have spiked to 10.9%. In his last start he allowed five runs in four innings to the Indians. The Orioles bullpen has struggled without Zach Britton. Last year Zach Britton put up arguably the most dominant season by a reliever in major league history. This year he’s thrown nine innings and is currently on the 60 day DL with a forearm strain. This year the Orioles are middle of the pack with a 4.30 ERA and 4.74 FIP. Darren O’Day and Brad Brach have had big shoes to fill with the loss of Britton. O’Day has a 3.86 ERA and 2.75 FIP. Brach has picked up most of the save opportunities with a 2.59 ERA and 3.43 FIP. The bullpen doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts with a combined 19.9% rate. O’Day is the top strikeout guy at 29.9%. The Orioles enter the series playing 17 straight days. The workload is a chance for the Rays to abuse. In the past three days the bullpen has thrown 12.1 innings and 25.2 in the past week. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports The Orioles offense has taken a step back. This season the Orioles are batting .255/.311/.430 and have a 93 wRC+. They continue to hit homers, but don’t get on base very often. Chris Davis and JJ Hardy are currently on the disabled list, replaced by Trey Mancini (No. 5 prospect, per Baseball America) and Ruben Tejada (recently purchased from the Yankees). Between them, Trey Mancini has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles. He’s hitting .313/.355/.561 and 138 wRC+ with 12 homers. Jonathan Schoop has broken out at the plate with a .292/.345/.537 and 128 wRC+. He’s hit 14 homers and doubled his walk rate to 6.0%, covering second. At third, Manny Machado has had a disappointing offensive season for a guy that was in consideration for best position player in baseball non-Trout divis[...]



Tampa Bay Rays Trade Rumors: Rays Have Inquired About Adeiny Hechavarria

2017-06-23T13:35:37-04:00

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The Rays are reportedly interested in the Marlins shortstop

According Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Rays as well as the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals have inquired about Marlins short stop, Adeiny Hechavarria. Ken Rosenthal also states that his sources also say the Rays have made inquiries into the Marlins short stop.

Hechavarria is currently rehabbing an oblique strained suffered towards the beginning of May. So far in 2017, he has only played in 20 games and hasn’t done very much over that limited time. Never one to be an offensive force at the plate, Hechavarria’s value comes from his fantastic defensive capabilities.

The starting middle-infielders for the Rays have in flux since the season’s inception as Matt Duffy’s foot can’t seem to heal and with no recent updates on Brad Miller’s injury, the Rays supposed starting infield has played a total of 42 games in 2017. In their place, Daniel Robertson and Tim Beckham have been a fine albeit flawed duo, with Robertson’s bat and Beckham’s glove being shaky at times.

Tim Beckham’s status is also a question now after sitting out the majority of the Rays past series with the Cincinnati Reds after being hit in the hand by an errant pitch.

With Daniel Robertson taking Brad Miller’s starting job at second base, the Rays had to look outside the organization for backup depth, having brought in Michael Martinez and Taylor Featherston, the former of which has already been designated for assignment.

If the Rays were to add Hechavarria, their infield defense will improve exponentially as Tim Beckham likely slides over to second, while Robertson resumes his utility role from the start of the season.

Hechavarria is currently in his 6th season in the majors, making his major league debut in 2012 with the Blue Jays and then was included in the huge 12 player deal between Toronto and Miami. Hechavarria has been the Marlins starting short stop since, not enjoying much success with the exception of his 3 WAR year in 2015.

He is owed just over $2M for the rest of the 2017 season and (if tendered) will enter his final year of arbitration in 2018 before becoming a free agent. According to Jeff Passan, the Marlins are expected to trade him over the next few days.