This is the second in our two part series looking at Tampa Bay's non-roster pitching invitees to spring training. We pick up right where we left off, plus reveal a few surprise twists at the end.*
With pitchers reporting to Port Charlotte in eight days, let's not waste another moment.
*There are no surprise twists at the end.
2014 (White Sox): 62 appearances, 4-8, 5.56 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 1.45 WHIP, 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.61 walks per nine innings
2015 Steamer Projections: 1.34 WHIP, 3.94 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 6.83 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.95 walkers per nine innings
Belisario is easily the most experienced and accomplished non-roster pitcher invited to camp. In five big leagues seasons with the Dodgers and White Sox, the 32-year-old right-hander has appeared in 335 games, all in relief, posting a 98 ERA-, 1.28 WHIP, and 7.25 strikeouts per nine innings.
For his career, Belisario has relied almost exclusively on his fastball, throwing it 83.6% of the time. However, he threw it a career-low 76.7% of the time last season, and lost a half-mile from 2013 (94.4 to 93.9). He also lost more than a mile per hour from his slider, his secondary pitch, as it went from 87.5 in 2012 to 87.3 in 2013, down to 86.1 in 2014.
Belisario is three seasons removed from his sensational 2012 with the Dodgers, when he posted career-bests in innings pitched (71.0), ERA (2.54), ERA- (67), WHIP (1.070), and strikeouts per nine innings (8.7).
In 2015, Belisario's remarkably high career ground ball rate of 60.4% could make him an ideal fit with what is expected to be an outstanding Rays defense. Additionally, his durability--between 59 and 77 appearances in every season--make him worth a look.
Interestingly, despite pitching in 335 games, he has appeared in just one game at the Trop in his career.
2014 (Montgomery): 46 games, 2-6, 6 saves, 3.68 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 1.282 WHIP, 10.14 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.79 walks per nine innings
2015 Steamer Projections: 1.39 WHIP, 4.29 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 6.48 strikeouts per nine innings, 3.44 walks per nine innings
While his 2014 numbers at Montgomery might not blow you away, there is reason to be optimistic about the Rays 2009 12th round draft pick. In Bellatti's second season at Double-A, the right-hander's numbers improved significantly from 2013, as you can see below:
At just 23, Bellatti made considerable strides in making batters swing and miss and keeping them off-base. He has yet to pitch above Double-A, but his career trajectory could result in him being quality bullpen depth at Durham and Tampa Bay.
2014 (Montgomery): 28 games, 11-13, 3.48 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 1.307 WHIP, 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.2 walks per nine innings
2015 Steamer Projections: 1.39 WHIP, 5.02 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 5.64 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.21 walks per nine innings
In his first three seasons of professional baseball, Floro, who just turned 24, has a 1.177 WHIP and 2.77 ERA. His 2014 at Double-A followed a 2013 season split between Single-A Bowling Green and High-A Charlotte, where, in 23 starts, Floro posted 1.049 WHIP, 1.77 ERA, and 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
With 345.2 innings pitched in his minor league career already, the Cal-State Fullerton product is one of the few non-roster invitees with significant starting experience. Despite low strikeout numbers and no starts above Double-A, Floro's starting experience could make him a useful depth guy for the rotation.
2014 (Tampa Bay): 29 games, 2-2, 3.71 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 1.147 WHIP, 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.9 walks per nine innings
2015 Steamer Projections: 1.25 WHIP, 3.61 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 7.73 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.84 walks per nine innings
Brandon Gomes is familiar name to Rays fans, having pitched in 110 games from 2011-2014, all in relief. The right-hander has compiled a 4.17 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.315 WHIP, and 8.33 strikeouts per nine innings. In his career, Gomes has been exceptional against right-handed hitters, holding them to a line of .199/.282/.325.
Curiously, Gomes's fastball and slider rates fell considerably in 2014, despite no decline in velocity.
|Year||Fastball % (Velocity)||Slider% (Velocity)||Split-Finger% (Velocity)|
|2011||60.0 (90.8)||22.6 (78.5)||17.4 (83.2)|
|2012||42.4 (90.1)||35.4 (78.5)||22.3 (82.5)|
|2013||44.9 (91.5)||34.9 (80.4)||20.2 (83.3)|
|2014||32.8 (91.4)||10.6 (81.7)||22.0 (82.2)|
His cut fastball rate, which hovered at 10% for his career, jumped to 34.6% in 2014. Perhaps correspondingly, from 2013 to 2014, his groundball rate jumped from 22.2% to 32.0%, and his flyball rate dropped from 64.4% to 45.6%.
Gomes, 31 in July, is a known commodity to the Rays and posted a career-best 1.147 WHIP in 2014. He has been outstanding versus right-handers, which is always needed in the AL East.
2014: Out of baseball
2015 Steamer Projections: No projections
Zarate has not been pitched in organized baseball since 2008. That season, the 28 year old left-hander from Venezuela appeared in two games for Toronto's Gulf Coast League team. In 2012-2013, Zarate appeared in four games for the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Pacific Coast League, posting a 7.36 ERA and 2.455 WHIP.
Zarate is an unknown commodity, especially to many of us, but the chance for fans to hang "K-arate" signs after strikeouts is damn enticing.
The Rays will head in to spring training with a bevy of arms, who, at the very least, should provide depth at Durham. A few pitchers, including Belisario, could impact the big league club, despite a heavy workload over five seasons and declining production. Will anybody else break out? The good news is we will start getting some answers in just over a week.