The Rays Bullpen: Don't Panic Yet

So far in this young season it seems as though whenever the Rays do something well it automatically gets compared against the 2008 World Series year. Case in point, the walk off hit on opening day caused many to get nostalgic about the magic that was 2008. The comparisons aren't necessarily fair, but that's not going to stop people from making them. The biggest topic of comparison has seemingly been the bullpen. What was such a strength in '08 turned into a liability in '09. The pen obviously needs to be better in 2010 if the Rays are going to contend for anything of significance. That being said, there has been far too much criticism of the bullpen during these first seven games.

To calm a few nerves, lets look at some of the antics of the '08 pen through it's first 10 games:

April 2nd, 2008:The second game of the season saw Gary Glover, Dan Wheeler, Al Reyes and Scott Dohmann come into the game in relief of Matt Garza against Baltimore. Reyes would give up the lead in the 8th inning, taking the loss in the process. His final line: 0.2IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 0K

April 5th: Trevor Miller allows two runs in 0.2IP, but the Rays beat the Yankees 6-3

April 7th:Scott Dohmann and Gary Glover pitch in relief of Jason Hammel. Dohmann allows two runs in his one inning of work.

April 8th:In a game that is very similar to the one started last Thursday by Jeff Niemann when he lasted just 1.1IP, Matt Garza goes just 2.2 IP and is pulled from the game due to an injury concern. Again, Scott Dohmann andGary Glover rear their ugly heads, combining with Dan Wheeler, Al Reyes, and Troy Percival to finish out the contest. Dohmann worked 1.1IP andallowed one run while Glover was saddled with the loss after allowing two runs and two walks in 1.2 IP.

April 9th: J.P. Howell allows two earned runs in 1.2IP in a 7-1 loss to Seattle.

As you can see, that's not close to the best work the pen would turn during the season. In fact, many of those players involved didn't even last the whole season with the team. So what if players like Randy Choate, Mike Ekstrometc are struggling at the moment? It's likely that one or more of them will not be with the team for the duration of the season. The point that I'm trying to convey is you shouldn't react in a negative manner just yet, it's far too early. I grabbed an extremely small sample size from 2008, and that's exactly what we have so far this season. So loosen up, be positive, and enjoy watching one of the best teams in baseball.

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