It’s been weird, America. This week we stared into the Orb, and the Orb stared back.
But if there is one thing we can rely on during these uncertain times, it’s that the Rays will hover around .500. So let’s see how Cash manipulated Lord Sauron this week.
May 22: Angels 3, Rays 2
Oh, and sorry for the brief hiatus in the column, but it felt like I was writing the same column over and over. Then I watched the May 22nd game, and — well, dang, it looks like I gotta write the same column again...
Overall, the bullpen management was pretty good. And while I haven’t always enjoyed watching Ryne Stanek pitch, I do understand tossing him right into the fire. He’s either going to be a high leverage guy for us, or he’s gonna be a failure, and we have a lot of other guys to cycle through. So it’s best to find out fast.
And I guess intentionally walking Mike Trout after you fall behind isn’t the worst thing in the world. But then intentionally loading the bases? When your pitcher has the kind of command Stanek does? That seems really sketchy.
In the end, it didn’t matter, as the eventually winning run scored on a wild pitch, because of course it did. I still didn’t like it.
If you’re gonna bring in Stanek to these high stress ABs, then let him pitch. Putting him in a position where he has to throw strikes doesn’t seem like a good strategy.
Thankfully, this wouldn’t be our lasting memory of Stanek this series. But still...
Pinch Hitting Souza for Norris
Toward the end of the top of the eighth, Derek Norris got dinged and it looked for a time like he might have to come out of the game. But they managed to stall long enough for him to pull it together to finish the inning. This was key, because Norris was due to lead off the bottom of the inning. If Sucre has to come in to catch there, then you can’t pinch hit.
Steven Souza Jr. would get the call. He walked, and advanced as far as second before being stranded there. So yeah, it didn’t pay off in a big way, but it was still good call and good use of resources.
Verdict: Well done.
Letting Michael Martinez Hit
I understand why Martinez is with the club. I even understand he has to play from time to time. What I don’t understand is why you let him hit in key situations, late, when you’re behind, and you have other options.
Believe it or not from his play in the field so far, Martinez is a good glove man. It’s just his bat that’s sub-replacement level. And yet, with two chances in high leverage to pinch hit for him, Cash took a pass.
The first was excusable. Man on first, two outs in the seventh. That’s barely high leverage at 1.83 LI, and all our middle infielders are already in the game. Which means you are either going to give up the DH to put Longo in the field, or let Rickie Weeks Jr. play second. So okay, I get it. I don’t necessarily agree, but I get it.
But the ninth inning? With two outs, and Robertson on first? What are you saving bullets for? Roll the dice, man, and if you lose the DH, so what? Heck, even if you end up having to put Danny Farquhar in the field, it’s worth the gamble.
Verdict: You were doing so well...
May 23: Angels 4, Rays 0
Cobb the 4th Time Through the Order
You can argue that Alex Cobb shouldn’t have faced Maybin / Trout / Pujols for the fourth time in the eighth inning. But really, who would you rather pitching to them? After the back-to-back to start things in the first, Cobb was dealing. And Cash did make the move to bring in Danny Farquhar for left-right-left of Valbuena, Simmons, and Calhoun.
This was all fine, even if it did all go to hell.
Really, there’s only one thing this night Cash could have done that would have made a difference.
Verdict: Get Colby a corked bat
May 24: Rays 5, Angels 2
There was virtually nothing to criticize on this one, so I’m not sure what to do with myself.
The Backend of the Future
If everything goes right, this is what the Rays backend will look like for next couple years: Jose Alvarado, Ryne Stanek, Alex Colome. And my gosh, did it look sexy here.
I’ve been impressed with Alvarado since he got here, but as I said earlier, I’ve never gotten into the whole Stanek fanboy scene. Okay, yes, he throws hard. But these are big league hitters. You have to do more than just “throw hard.” So we’ve mostly seen Kevin Cash toss Stanek into these sink-or-swim situation, and it hasn’t always been pretty. These weren’t bad decisions by Cash though, because really, it’s the only way we’re going to find out if Ryne develops from a guy who lights up the radar gun into a guy who gets big leaguers out.
On this night, he was definitely the gets people out guy.
Yeah, he walked Maybin. But he also struck out the side, including Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and looked really good doing it.
Kudos to Cash for sticking with the plan, even when it looked shaky at times. And I really hope I’ve been wrong and we get more nights like this. Because this? This was fun.
Verdict: I can’t post the gif I want to because this is family blog
May 25: Rays 4, Angels 0
I assume this was a fun game to watch. Like a lot of you, I was 1) at work, and 2) following on Gameday anyway because there no local TV. But overall, it seemed like a very well managed game without a lit if tough calls. One praise and one quibble:
Logan Morrison — as he is wont to do — got lippy with Andy Fletcher after a strikeout in the fifth, and Cash was very quick to interject himself into the situation and get between the slugger and the homeplate ump. Was LoMo on his way to getting tossed? Who knows? But it’s always better to step in sooner than after he’s already gotten the heave-ho.
Verdict: Good job!
Matt Andriese in the Eighth
Andriese has been really solid this year, so it’s possible that eventually my mistrust in him will wear off. But I still think sending him back out in the eighth to face Trout for a fourth time — especially when he was already north of 100 pitches — was an unnecessary risk.
Of course, Matty went ahead and K’d Trout, so...
Verdict: I’m just a blogger, what the hell do I know?
On to Minnesota!