Are Rays Relievers Autobots or Decepticons?

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted this thought earlier today

Heyman_medium

A lot of people say it, a lot of people even joke about the fact that everyone reacts to Andrew Freidman moves differently than signings by other GM's. The big question: is the axiom actually true?

The table below shows the stable of relievers that have been brought in via trade or free agency and have thrown at least a full season's of work in a Rays uniform.

PITCHER IP ERA FIP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Lance Cormier (TB) 139.1 3.55 4.65 9.2 4.3 3.8 0.8
Lance Cormier (preTB) 455 4.93 5.16 10.2 5.3 4.4 1.2
Grant Balfour (TB) 203 3.33 3.04 6.9 10.4 4.0 0.6
Grant Balfour (preTB) 70.2 4.33 3.91 7.5 10.3 4.6 1.0
Juan Cruz (TB) 48.2 3.88 4.25 6.7 8.5 5.2 0.9
Juan Cruz (preTB) 619.1 4.13 4.24 7.8 9.1 4.8 0.9
Joaquin Benoit (TB) 60.1 1.34 2.50 4.5 11.2 1.6 0.9
Joaquin Benoit (preTB) 591.1 4.79 4.57 8.5 8.2 4.3 1.2
Kyle Farnsworth (TB) 57.2 2.18 3.29 7.0 8.0 1.9 0.8
Kyle Farnsworth (preTB) 894.2 4.25 4.27 8.5 9.0 3.8 1.2
Troy Percival (TB) 57 4.89 6.15 6.8 7.1 5.1 1.9
Troy Percival (preTB) 708.2 3.17 3.86 6.1 9.9 3.9 1.1
Joel Peralta (TB) 67.2 2.93 3.41 5.9 8.1 2.4 0.9
Joel Peralta (preTB) 390 3.99 4.05 8.1 7.5 2.4 1.3
J.P. Howell (TB) 280 4.21 4.05 8.4 9.0 4.0 1.0
J.P. Howell (preTB) 72.2 6.19 5.18 9.0 6.7 4.8 1.1
Al Reyes (TB) 83.1 4.75 4.52 7.6 9.6 3.3 1.6
Al Reyes (preTB) 428.2 4.03 4.25 7.1 8.9 4.1 1.1
Dan Wheeler (2nd TB) 197.1 3.10 4.26 6.8 7.8 2.6 1.4
Dan Wheeler (preTB2) 310.1 3.42 3.63 8.2 8.5 2.7 1.0
Rafael Soriano (TB) 62.1 1.73 2.83 5.2 8.2 2.0 0.6
Rafael Soriano (preTB) 332.2 2.79 3.37 6.5 9.6 2.8 0.9
Joe Nelson (TB) 40.1 4.02 5.68 7.1 8.0 6.0 1.6
Joe Nelson (preTB) 101.1 4.17 3.91 8.0 9.7 4.5 1.0

Indeed, most were indeed better in their time with the Rays than they were prior to arriving in Tampa Bay. Percival and Reyes clearly did not do better overall, but they were both already near the end of their careers and both made Tampa Bay the final stop in their careers. Wheeler improved in hits allowed but gave up more home runs and struck out less his second time around than he did earlier in his career.

Only Juan Cruz had a career walk rate close to where Rodney is as he comes to town. Rodney has had a walk rate of at least 4.9 for four consecutive seasons and has not walked less than 4.0 per nine innings since the 2007 season in Detroit.

Most of the pitchers that come to Tampa Bay and work in the bullpen do indeed find more success here, but some do not and past performance is certainly no guarantee of future results. Rodney does some things well:

  • Career OPS vs RH bats below .700
  • Career .573 OPS vs all hitters when ahead in the count
  • OPS over the pas four seasons with runners in scoring position: .755, .702, .678., .599
  • Has been better than league average in limiting base hits against groundballs over the past three seasons
That said, Jim Hickey has his work cut out for him in refining Rodney's command if the reliever is indeed to become the next signee to be more than meets the eye.
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