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.
The Tampa Bay Rays will take their slim one game lead over the Boston Red Sox up against Boston tonight in Florida.
The two teams have the same amount of wins but the Rays have lost two fewer games. Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays against Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox.
This three game series will mark the final time these two teams meet unless they cross in the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays continued on their most recent hot streak with a 6-4 win in Miami against the Florida Marlins. The Rays topped the Marlins earlier in a series in Tampa and are now looking to do the same thing in Miami.
Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays and went his usual five innings. Sonnanstine gave up two runs and struck out five Marlin batters. Sonnanstine received a no-decision. JP Howell came on after Sonnanstine and went two innings to move his record to an impressive 6-0. Troy Percival came on in the ninth inning and walked four batters and allowed a run. He was able to get the three outs and pick up his 18th save.
Akinori Iwamura led the Rays with three hits. He also added two runs scored and drove in two runs as well. Carl Crawford had two hits and two runs scored. Dioner Navarro reached base three times as he doubled and drew a pair of walks. The Rays scored twice in the 8th inning on bases loaded walks.
The Rays and Marlins will play the middle game of their three game series tomorrow. James Shields is going to start for the Rays and the game is scheduled to start at 7:10pm.
The Rays got into a good ol fashioned brawl with the New York Yankees the other day. This was all stemming from a home plate collision a few days before. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi went on and on about how he thought the play was dirty and uncalled for. While a home plate collision, during spring training or the regular season, is hardly a dirty a play, sticking your spikes up at another player is a dirty play. That’s how the Yankees retaliated.
Five players ended up getting tossed from the game. There was a feeling that there could be some retaliation during the game and the umpires were clearly looking out for that sort of stuff. In the first inning, Evan Longoria took a fastball high and tight from Yankees pitcher Heath Phillips. Phillips was promptly tossed. After Shelley Duncan slid spikes first into Aki Iwamura benches cleared and players briefly fought before it was broken up.
It will interesting to see if any of this tension carries over into the regular season. Since they are division rivals they will play each other a bunch this season and there could be more fireworks to come.
The Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday to move to 2-0 in Spring Training games. The promising Rays overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the game 5-2 in a game started by James Shields. Shields threw two innings in his first start this spring and gave up one run. The bullpen carried the team the rest of the way giving up only one run over the next seven innings despite allowing more than a comfortable amount of baserunners.
Future star Evan Longoria entered the game as a pinch hitter for Rocco Baldelli and tripled in two runs in the sixth inning, putting the Rays ahead for good. Follow the Rays this afternoon as yet another of their promising young arms takes the hill. Jeff Niemann, who was an All Star at AAA last season will make his first start of the spring against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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