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Jalen Beeks could be a key arm for the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays. Or not.

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Time for some Remedial Beeks Theory

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

It’s March 28, 2019 and you come home to a brand new board game sitting on your front step. You go inside, tear open the wrapping, and you’re excited to find a dice-based game with unlimited variations at play. Eager to put this bad boy to the test, you call over your friends and embark on what will be an eight-month-long journey.

[Editor’s note before we being this journey: Yes, Baseball Prospectus has 10-90 percentile projections for Beeks’ 2019 season. They range allllll the way from 55.8 innings to 86.0 innings and -0.2 WARP to 1.7 WARP. The likelihood of most of the following outcomes are not quite in line with the snoozefest that is real, analytically-based projections. Here’s a link to those if you want them. Now let’s have some actual fun.]

Roll 1: Eovaldi, who?

The first roll takes us to the best of the somewhat possible timelines. After posting a 12.79 ERA in just 6.1 innings with the Red Sox last year, Beeks looked far more comfortable in a Tampa Bay jersey in 2018, posting a 4.47 ERA (94 ERA+) in 44.1 innings. With Boston, he started one game and relieved in one game; with the Rays, he was immediately slotted into a “bulk” role. After a rough Rays debut (3.1 IP, 8 ER against Baltimore), Beeks made 11 appearances in the final two months and was remarkably consistent, never allowing more than three runs in any of those outings. If it weren’t for his first Rays outing (this type of logic is always a little manipulative, but he pitched just three days after being traded), he would have had a 3.07 ERA as a Ray.

Something close to that is what we see with roll 1. Now with an entire offseason and spring training to adjust to the “bulk” role, Beeks reliably handles 4-5 innings every 5-6 days, tossing 150 innings of 3.50 ERA baseball. Staying healthy for the whole year, he nets the Rays about 3.0 wins of value, and even plays a key role in the Rays AL Wild Card win over the Angels.

The numbers that support this roll: This really isn’t as much of a stretch as it may seem. As noted above, his ERA over his final 11 appearances with Tampa was just a hair over 3.00, and he has shown strong health over the course of his career, throwing at least 130.0 innings each of the past four years.

Roll 2: The Disaster Artist

You feel an immediate chill course through the room after this roll. A door opens for no particular reason, and you could swear you saw something move behind you in the reflection off the Evan Longoria framed photo you have on your living room wall.

Beeks falls off fast. He makes it through camp at the MLB level, but only because of a couple of injuries to other potential “bulk” guys, and the fact that the Rays want to prove they weren’t complete losers in a trade that helped hand their division rivals yet another title.

Beeks goes through April with a 5.50 ERA, but again, doesn’t quite get demoted because he has shown a flash here and there, and there aren’t many other options. However, in a key late-May matchup against his former team (with the way the AL East is looking to play out this season, even the May matchups will be must-watch), Beeks implodes for seven runs in 1.2 innings, costing the Rays what looked like a huge win, when Yandy Diaz took Chris Sale deep for a grand slam in the second inning.

Beeks gets sent to the minors where his control continues to flounder, and he never makes it back to the big leagues in 2019.

The numbers that support this roll: I have had (and will continue to have) some fun with arbitrary endpoints throughout this article, sometimes even giving reasons why they are not quite as arbitrary as they seem. However, this is still a 25-year-old who was never a major prospect and is coming off a season in which he had a 5.51 ERA and 4.64 FIP. Per those BP projections mentioned earlier, in the 20th percentile outcome, Beeks has a DRA over 5.00.

Roll 3: You expected a 3, and you rolled a 3

Right off the bat, you know this is a better roll than the last. Nothing too wild, basically what you’d expect from a crafty 25-year-old lefty who flexed his best pitch more often in Tampa Bay and is being used by a smart team that plays to his every advantage. He has one trip to the Injured List, along with a couple more nicks here and there that hold him back from 100+ innings. He ends up with 25 appearances, 75.0 innings, a 4.00 ERA, and about a win of value.

The numbers that support this roll: Literally all of them.

Roll 4: Beeks inherits the Earth

This time you definitely saw something in that reflection off the Longoria painting. But it doesn’t scare you. Quite the opposite. It’s Jalen Beeks, shirtless, Putin-style, astride a Blue Roan Gypsy Vanner horse, charging through your apartment.

Tattooed on his chest, his 2019 statline: 19 wins (that bulk role is good for nothing if not bringing back the win as a stat), 165.0 innings, a 2.80 ERA, 15-20 think pieces, a second-place finish in the Cy Young and a first-place finish in the MVP (the voters were so befuddled, they didn’t know how to handle him).

Cradled under his right arm is the 2019 Commissioner’s Trophy (the Rays didn’t actually win the World Series, but Beeks rode into Dodger Stadium and stole it from Clayton Kershaw after Game 7). In his left hand, next to the reins, is a fresh-off-the-press contract: 10 years, $300 million—what a bargain!

The numbers that support this roll: Literally none of them. (Ok, but in a best case scenario, Beeks combines his 50+ percent ground ball rate he had as a Ray last year with a strong swinging strike rate [13.0 percent in his final two months] for the type of success he had during the nine-outing run from August 2 to September 18, where he threw 34.1 innings of 2.36 ERA ball.)

Roll 5: Well, he is a pitcher, right?

You tear your UCL rolling the dice. Season over.

The numbers that support this roll: Pitchers gonna pitch.

Roll 6:

Poll

Which outcome do you foresee for Beeks in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Roll 1: Eovaldi, who?
    (54 votes)
  • 3%
    Roll 2: The Disaster Artist
    (8 votes)
  • 52%
    Roll 3: You expected a 3, and you rolled a 3
    (108 votes)
  • 9%
    Roll 4: Beeks inherits the Earth
    (20 votes)
  • 4%
    Roll 5: Well, he is a pitcher, right?
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    Roll 6: Donald Glover gets the pizza
    (8 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now