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Mitch Talbot Is Good At Baseball

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Despite the first inning in today's game, Mitch Talbot is still good at baseball. There has been a lot of talk about who should be the Rays 5th starter coming out of camp.  Names like Jason Hammel, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and even Carlos Hernandez have been tossed around. Talbot is the one name that seemingly continues to get lost in the shuffle.

 

Let's start out with a little background on Mr. Talbot. 

Talbot was drafted out of high school in the second round(70th overall) in 2002.  He didn't sign immediately and began his professional career in 2003.  Talbot would start out 2006 in AA Corpus Christi and pitch well, putting up an ERA/FIP of 3.39/2.81 in 18 games.  At mid season he would be traded, along with Ben Zobrist, to the Devil Rays in exchange for Aubrey Huff.  He was excellent after landing in Montgomery, winning the organization's pitcher of the month award for August and posting an ERA/FIP of 1.90/2.81 over 10 starts.  2007 saw Talbot receive a promotion to AAA Durham, which also happened to be his worst year as a pro.  A career low K/9(6.93) and a career high BB/9(3.30) lead to, you guessed it, a career worst ERA(4.53) and FIP(4.00).  However, Talbot rebounded nicely in 2008 making 29 starts with an ERA/FIP of 3.86/3.03 and the lowest BB/9 of his career(1.96).  This earned Talbot a call up to the majors, making his debut on September 15th in relief of Scott Kazmir.  Eight days later he would make his first, and so far only, start in the majors against the Orioles, earning a no decision in the process

Now that we have that taken care of let's get back to the matter at hand. 

It's unfortunate for him that he is in the Rays organization.  If he pitched for any other team he would be one of their best prospects, or more than likely would be in their starting rotation.  With the Rays he's a 3rd or 4th banana in the group of Price, Niemann, Davis and Hellickson.  However, injuries happen.  The Rays were pretty fortunate last season having 4 of the 5 members of their rotation make 30+ starts, while Kazmir made 27.  It doesn't seem likely they'll have the same good fortune again.  Having a pitcher like Talbot that they can call upon is a great luxury. 

However, that seems to be Talbot's fate with this team.  Even if he does win the 5th starters spot out of spring he will only be keeping the seat warm for David Price.    The Rays have so many talented arms that I don't think Talbot is ever going to get a real shot here.  He's talented enough to be a young and exciting 4th or 5th starter this season for most other teams.  For the Rays he's just another cog in the machine.