I used to go to Busch Gardens as a kid with my family on vacation. That place is the best now that I think about it. Wild animals, cheap beer and roller coasters…more American than apple pie. Here are your starters and relievers.
1. David Price. 2010 stats: 2.72 ERA, 19-6, 1.19 WHIP. Brief: This is what it looks like when a top-end pitching prospect pans out. A big, powerful lefty who upped his strikeout average last year. Most definitely one of the top-3 favorites to win the AL Cy Young this season.
2. James Shields. 2010 stats: 5.18 ERA, 13-15, 1.46 WHIP. Brief: Shields opponents averaged .341 on balls hit in play. He also held the highest homer-per-fly-ball rate in the Bigs. The good news: a career-high strikeout-per-nine innings rate of over eight batters.
3. Wade Davis. 2010 stats: 4.07 ERA, 12-10, 1.35 WHIP. Brief: In his second season, Wade will have to the limit his propensity to give up the deep ball in his new role as the No. 3 starter. Garza is gone folks. We’ll see how Davis handles more responsibility.
4. Jeremy Hellickson. 2010 stats: 3.47 ERA, 4-0, 1.10 WHIP. Brief: The Rays are high in praise for the 23-year-old and it’s probably a big reason why they were able to part ways with Matt Garza in the offseason. Hellickson can locate the low-90′s fastball to go with a change up, curve and a cutter every so often.
5. Jeff Niemann. 2010 stats: 4.39, 12-8, 1.26 WHIP. Brief: Great first half and poor second half for the 6-foot-9 freak show. Still a 12-8 record out of your No. 5 starter can’t make you too mad.
Kyle Farnsworth. 2010 stats: 3.34 ERA, 9 holds, 1.14 WHIP. Brief. Farnsworth morphed from a four-seam fastball/slider pitcher to a two-seam/cutter guy while maintaining a healthy strikeout rate. Farnsworth still hasn’t morphed into a guy that wears pants that don’t look like they are going to rip, however.
Closer: Jake McGee. 2010 stats: 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP. Brief: McGee has the most upside of all the candidates for the Rays’ closer role. He moved from a starter in the minors to a reliever in the majors last season.
Alright ya’ll…we’ll see you next time.
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