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Monday Morning Rays Wrap Up: Time to Make Changes?

The Rays began this week with a record of 28-24 and 1.5 games behind the AL East leading Red Sox and 1/2 game behind the second place Yankees.  The Rays were looking to build momentum after their first series win in two weeks over the Cleveland Indians. The Rays won the series finale 7-0 in a game that  featured excellent pitching by Jeremy Hellickson, solid fielding, and timely hitting. Unfortunately, the solid effort against the Indians didn't continue through to the next week. The Rays went 2-5 over their seven games played last week and currently have a record of 30-29. They are now tied for third in the division with the Blue Jays and are a full 4 games behind the first place NY Yankees and 3 games behind the 2nd place Red Sox. The trade rumors are already starting to circulate about trading B.J. Upton (link here) and most likely it will only be a matter of time before we read the names Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, and Johnny Damon joining B.J. Upton as players available for the right price.

The big talk surrounding the Rays today will not be whether Brandon Guyer has a ticket to join the team in Anaheim, whether or not Andy Sonnanstine remains with the team in the long man role, or whether the team should cut ties with Kelly Shopach (even after his 2-hit performance on Sunday). The attention surrounding the Rays today will have very little to do with the 2011 product on the field, it will have to do with who the Rays draft.  The Rays own 10 of the first 60 picks (#24, #31, #38, #41, #32, #52, #56, #59, #60, and #75) and 12 of the first 89 (#75 and #89) picks. Draft coverage begins at 6PM on the MLB network and DRB will have plenty of discussion and player profiles as the selections are made.

This Weeks Notes & Thoughts:

  • The Rays have been held to 3 runs or less a total of 30 times (8-22) out of 59 games.  The Rays are 0-3 when shutout, 0-6 when held to 1 run, 3-7 when held to 2 runs, and 5-6 when held to 3 runs.
  • The Rays entered Sunday's games ranked 9th in the AL in R/G (4.09), 11th in BA (.242), 11th in OBP (.309), and 9th in SLG% (.392). 
  • Entering Sunday's game, several Rays hitters excelled during the week: Sam Fuld (.400/.500/.400), Ben Zobrist (.269/.296/.423),and Evan Longoria (.250/.348/.400).
  • Matt Joyce was given an opportunity to hit against left-handed pitching this week.  He responded by going 4-11 and putting up a slash line of .364/.417/.909 including a homerun off Texas lefty C.J. Wilson and Seattle lefty Aaron Laffey. On the year he now has an OPS of .839 against LHP (.242/.324/.515).
More after the jump.
  • Sean Rodriguez was given the opportunity to hit against right-handed pitching this week.  He did not respond favorably going 1-8 (.125/.125/.125). He now has an OPS of .548 (.164/.247/.301) vs right-handed pitching on the year.
  • Entering Sunday's game, several Rays hitters struggled during the week: Reid Brignac (.100/.100/.100), John Jaso (.091/.167/.091), B.J. Upton (.105/.261/.105), and Kelly Shoppach (.000/.200/.000).
  • The Rays catching duo of John Jason and Kelly Shoppach have a OPS of .556 and a slash line of .185/.255/.302 while the league average OPS for catchers is .672 and a slash line of .230/.290/.373.  
  • The Rays shortstop combination has an OPS of .549 and a slash line of .209/.243/.306 while the league average OPS for shortstops is .711 and a slash line of .267/.326/.386.
  • The Rays pitching staff ranks tied for 5th in the AL in R/G allowed (3.93), 6th in ERA (3.71), 4th in BB/9 at (3.1), and 11th in K/9 (6.4).
  • Jeremy Hellickson is living up to the expectations that many had hoped for (7-3, 3.66 FIP, 6.28 K/9, 3.52 BB/9).
  • The Rays are 28-0 when leading after 8 innings. Kyle Farnsworth has developed into one of the better closers in the American League posting a 2-0 record with 11 saves and an ERA of 1.35. He has faced 75 batters on the year, issued 1 walk while striking out 12, and has1 blown save.
  • Cesar Ramos, Adam Russell, and Kyle Farnsworth worked 9 IP last week (entering Sunday's game) giving up 3H, 0ER, 3BB, and 7Ks.
  • Adam Russell is vying for more high leverage opportunity. Over his last 6 appearances covering 5.2 IP, Russell has given up 0R/0ER, while striking out 4 and walking 1.
  • The Rays streak of 52 straight games of committing 1 or fewer errors in a game came to an end on Monday evening when Sean Rodriguez made three errors.  The Rays still have committed the second fewest errors in the AL with 28, rank 1st in defensive efficiency at .729, and are 2nd in fielding percentage (.986).
  • Wade Davis continues to struggle as he was touched for 2.2 IP, 12 hits, 7 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 2 homeruns allowed on Monday vs the Rangers and 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts on Sunday.
  • Jeff Niemann made a rehab start in Port Charlotte on Friday night. He threw 54 pitches, 41 for strikes covering 4 innings of 1-hit ball, walking 1 while striking out 2. He is scheduled to make two starts in Durham with a pitch count of 75 and 90 respectively before returning to the Rays rotation.
  • Brandon Guyer continues to hit at Durham. Entering Sunday's game Guyer had an OPS of .938 and a slash line of .324/.393/.548 with 9 HR and 30 RBI. Against right-handed pitching he has an OPS of 1.029 and a slash line of .355/.418/.612 with 7 HR. Guyer also has 8 stolen bases on the season.
  • Switch hitting catcher Jose Lobaton continues to hit at Durham. Entering Sunday's game Lobaton had an OPS of .898 and a slash line of .295/.389/.509. Against left-handed pitching, Lobaton has an OPS of .955 and a slash line of .351/.415/.541.
  • Cory Wade has pitched 30 innings in relief for Durham and has posted a 2-1 record with a 1.09 ERA. He has surrendered only 3 home runs, has struck out 33 while only walking 6.  Additionally, 12 of his 19 outings have been 2 been 2 or more innings. Wade is not on the 40 man roster.

The Rays entered Monday's game against the Rangers looking to knock the bad October taste out of their mouths and were hopeful that Wade Davis could continue to make progress in becoming the pitcher he was in 2010. The pitcher that prior to the season the Rays signed to a guaranteed 12.6 million dollars over the next four years. Davis entered the game with a record of 4-4 with a 3.71 ERA but a not so good 4.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.  The Rangers hammered Davis all over Tropicana Field and the October fielding miscues continued as the Rays had their first multi-error game of the season by committing 3 errors, all by Sean Rodriguez. Wade Davis final line was 2.2 IP, 12 hits, 7 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 2 homeruns allowed and the Rangers added 4 more runs off the Rays bullpen to earn the 11-5 victory.. The bright spot for the Rays was homeruns by Justin Ruggiano and Ben Zobrist, a 2-4 performance by Matt Joyce against Texas lefthander Derrick Holland, and a clean inning by Adam Russell. After the game the Rays sent reliever Brandon Gomes to Durham and recalled Alex Cobb to make his second start versus the Rangers.

On Tuesday, Alex Cobb made his second big league start, this time without the pressure that comes with a major league debut and without giving the opposition an advantage by tipping his pitches. Cobb seemed shaky in the first inning by putting runners at second and third with only one out. Cobb remained focused and after striking out the dangerous Micheal Young he got Adrian Beltre to groundout to end the inning. In the third inning Cobb issued a two out walk to Josh Hamilton and back to back singles to Michael Young and Adrian Beltre to give the Rangers a short lived lead as Sean Rodriguez homered in the bottom of the frame to tie the game at 1-1. The Rangers jumped ahead in the 7th inning on the combination of aggressive baserunning by the Rangers and defensive lapses by the Rays. Mike Napoli led off the inning with a single and manager Ron Washington had him in motion and moved up to second when Endy Chavez grounded out to second base. Ian Kinsler followed with a soft line drive to center to drive in Mike Napoli who left at the crack of the bat. B.J. Upton had no chance to get Napoli but threw the ball over the cutoff man and Kinsler moved up to second base. Cobb walked Andres Blanco before he was replaced by J.P. Howell who immediately struck out the dangerous Josh Hamilton.  Howell was unable to get the final out of the inning as Micheal Young singled up the middle to plate Ian Kinsler, this time B.J. Upton threw to the mound but 1b Felipe Lopez failed to be in position to make the cut and allowed Young and Blanco to move up to second and third with two out. Howell induced Adrian Beltre to ground out to first base to end the inning with the Rays trailing 3-1. Much like the lead in the 3rd inning, this one would be short lived as Matt Joyce hit a 2-out 2 run homerun off lefty C.J. Wilson to tie the score at 3-3. The Rangers took the lead in the 8th when Joel Peralta uncorked a wild pitch (debatable whether it should of been a passed ball) which allowed Nelson Cruz to score and gave the Rangers the 4-3 lead.  The Rays came back in the bottom of the eighth when Evan Longoria hit a 2 out 2-run homerun off of Rangers lefty Arthur Rhodes and Kyle Farnsworth retired Josh Hamilton, Micheal Young, and Adrian Beltre to give the Rays the 5-4 victory.

The Rays looked to win their second series in a row and had David Price on the mound to face Colby Lewis. The game remained scoreless until the 5th inning when Adrian Beltre lead off with a double and came around to score on a single by Nelson Cruz. The Rangers tacked on two more runs against Price in the eighth inning on a two out two run single by Elvis Andrus.  Colby Lewis worked 8 IP gave up 4 hits, struck out 8 and walked 1 and Netfali Feliz earned his 11th save as the duo handed the Rays their second shutout of the season and won the game 3-0.

After losing 2 out of 3 to Texas, the Rays traveled to the West Coat to begin their 4 city/11 game road trip to take on the Seattle Mariners. The pitching matchup featured James Shields vs Felix Hernandez in what was expected to be a low scoring affair.  Unfortunately, the script was only followed by the Rays who scored only 2 runs on the evening (1 charged to Felix Hernandez). James Shields got touched up for 5 runs in the second inning by giving up a solo homerun to Jack Cust, a RBI single to Chone Figgins, and a three run homerun to Carlos Peguero. Shields gave up a RBI double to Adam Kennedy in the fourth inning and a pair of solo homeruns to Carlos Peguero and Justin  Smoak in the fifth. The Mariners cruised to an 8-2 victory and James Shields took the loss and his final line on the day was a very unimpressive, 4IP, 8R, 7ER, 7H, 3BB, 4K.

Joe Maddon elected to give Andy Sonnanstine an additional start in order to compensate for the makeup game against the Tigers at the end of the road trip. Sonnanstine did not give the Rays what they were hoping as he went 5IP gave up 7ER, 4H, 1K, 5BB, and 3 of his 4 hits were homeruns.  The Rays offense was shut down by Jason Vargas who threw a complete game shutout leading the Mariners to a 7-0 victory over the Rays.

The Rays looked to Jeremy Hellickson to continue to provide the same type of outing that earned him AL pitcher of the month of May (4-1 record with a 1.36 ERA).  After receiving an early 3-0 lead, Hellickson worked into the eighth inning before the Mariners were able to push two runs across the plate thanks to a 2-run homerun by Miguel Olivo (one run charged to Hellickson). Kyle Farnsworth came in and retired the side in order in the ninth inning picking  up his 11th save to give the Rays a 3-2 victory and Hellickson improved to 7-3 with a  2.64 ERA on the year.

The Rays looked to get a series split in Seattle and sent Wade Davis to the mound against Seattle lefty Erik Bedard.  Wade Davis was staked to an early run but gave all three runs back in the third inning on a one-out two-run triple by Ichiro followed by a rare suicide squeeze call by Seattle manager Eric Wedge to tie the game at 3. The game remained tied until the seventh inning when Davis yielded a two-out two-run triple to Greg Halman giving the Mariners a 5-3 advantage.  The Rays came back to take a lead in the seventh inning on back to back run scoring doubles by Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce and a pinch hit 2-out RBI single by Evan Longoria. Joe Maddon turned to J.P. Howell to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. Howell retired the first batter he faced before surrendering a walk to Justin Smoak and a single to Jack Cust and an RBI single to Adam Kennedy to tie the game at 6-6. Joe Maddon removed Howell from the game in favor of Miguel Olivo who hit a 3-run homerun to put the Mariners ahead 9-6. Adam Russell replaced Joel Peralata and surrendered three singles before retiring Brendan Ryan on a groundball to first to end the inning. The Mariners brought Brandon League in to close the door and he retired the Rays in order to earn his 16th save on the year. The 9-6 loss drops the Rays into a third place tie with the Toronto Blue Jays as they head to Anaheim for a three game series beginning Monday.

This week the Rays will travel to Anaheim to take on the Angles.  Monday's game will feature David Price vs Tyler Chatwood, Tuesday will be Alex Cobb vs Dan Haren, and Wednesday will be James Shields vs Jared Weaver. After an off-day Thursday the Rays will travel back east to Baltimore to take on the Orioles.  Friday's game will feature Jeremy Hellickson vs Jake Arrieta. Saturday will be Wade Davis vs Jeremy Guthrie, and Sunday will be David Price vs undecided.

The first place Yankees will host the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox will leave New York and travel to Toronto, the Blue Jays will face the Kansas City Royals before heading home to host the Red Sox, and the Baltimore Orioles will finish a west coast trip in Oakland before returning home to host the Rays.

SF1 has had many contrary opinions over the course of this season, so let's see what he has to say about the team moving forward.

I can't remember the last winning week we had and this one of 2-5 claims the prize. In a nutshell, we suck. We have an offense that is scoring three runs or less about 50% of the time. We now have an 8th inning bullpen pitcher who is notorious for being a fly ball pitcher, and as you saw this weekend that worked out well.

We have complete chaos at the bottom of our rotation and a manager who for some reason found the need to give the biggest bum down there an extra strart. 

J.P. Howell is completely worthless at this point yet our brilliant manager continues to allow him in games where he can and is killing us.

We have a FO that for some sill S2 reason refused to bring up player who actually might help.

I'll bet Hellickson and Price are counting the days until their free agency so they don't have to play behind lineups that include Jaso, Fuld, Shoppach, Lopez, Brignac, and Ruggiano.

Am I ready to raise the white flag? No, but close.

Go Rays