One of the biggest competitions in Rays Camp this year will be how the Rays Bullpen(mainly the set-up men/Closer combo) will look at the start of the season.
Why is the closer spot up for grabs?
If you're a Rays fan, you should know why we're looking for closer....
If you're not too familiar with the Rays, I'll explain it to you. Late in this offseason, we traded our 2 former closers(Danys Baez and Lance Carter) to the LA Dodgers for Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany. So our closer spot is now up for grabs and we've got a group of pitchers that are up for it.
The Usual Suspects
The candidates for the closers spot are an interesting mix, thats for sure. Right now, the candidates are: A former Shortstop-turned-reliever Chad Orvella, Japanese Import Shinji Mori, "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" Jesus Colome and an old fogie in Dan "Whose the Boss?" Miceli.
Chad Orvella is, as of right now, the odds-on-favorite for the spot. He was deemed after an impressive 2 year trek through the Rays system as a very dominate reliever who didn't walk many batters. The only thing standing in his way are 2 minor problems that he has to work out himself and both are stamina-related. Chad Orvella has yet to surpass 75 IP(though I may be wrong) in a season and if he's going to be the Rays closer, he may need to break that stumbling block. Also, it's been shown that Orvella has minor problems in maintaining velocity if he's pitching in games in back-to-back games.
In my opinion, the Rays back-up plan at closer is likely to be the Rays rookie import from Japan...Shinji Mori. In Japan, he was mainly used as a set-up man and he only had minor stints closing. One of his claims to fame is that he's struck out Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Bernie Williams in a game with MLB all-stars facing Japanese League All-Star. So he's got the ability, but at the age of thirty...he's less than likely to be a long-time answer at closer.
The "darkhorse" of this competition is Jesus Colome. Jesus is an enigmatic pitcher to say the least and with the mental states of great closers in MLB, that's a perfect fit for him. Jesus, when healthy, has dominating stuff and his fastball can run in the High-90's to 100's at times. He's no longer being held down by Lou Piniella and he apparently is excited to work under new ownership and new managers Joe Maddon and Mike Butcher.
The long-shot of this competition is Dan Miceli. Looking at his stats, he doesn't even deserve to have a boldened name. He's a reliever and the Rays are hoping that he could be used as a 6th or 7th inning reliever, if he makes the team out of Spring Training.