All-Star selections are coming out today and there has been much talk has been about the Rays possible representation. The average MLB fan would probably credit the Rays improvement in the bullpen to the acquisition of Troy Percival. While Percy has been great as our closer, he has not been quite as good as two other Rays relievers. J.P. Howell and Dan Wheeler have been the glue that has stuck this bullpen together and put the Rays in winning positions so many times. Many are even calling for Howell to represent the Rays in the All-Star game, but they should also be considering Wheeler's name.
As can be seen in the chart above, both Wheeler and Howell have been outstanding up to this point in the season. Wheeler has been outstanding in terms of leaving runners on base. Expect some regression in this area from him in the second half, as the league average is around 75%. In the same regards you can expect Howell to get even better. The most impressive stat here has to be Howell's OPS against in high leverage situations. An OPS of .303 is not just impressive, but rather jaw-dropping. We have said before that "The Vulture" is a gamer, but it is even more evident after seeing this statistic. Wheeler's mark isn't too shabby either and he has seen 14 more high leverage plate appearances. You would expect Howell to show some regression in this category, but some pitchers have shown trends in the past to consistently pitch well in important situations. The difference between whether or not we become a playoff team may lay heavily on the performance of these two hurlers.