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Watch the Rays rotation make good hitters look bad

Trust me, it’s a great way to get by as we wait for the season to start

Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have an incredible pitching staff. It’s easily among the best in the league when everyone is healthy.

This past season, hitters whiffed on 13% of the pitches offered from the Rays staff, which was the best rate in the Majors. Individually, the top three of the Rays pitching staff (Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Glasnow), all ranked in the 25th percentile regarding swinging strike percentage. Blake Snell actually led the majors as opponents swung through 17.7% of his offerings.

Opposing batter just struggle to make contact against the Rays elite trio of arms. Blake Snell again leads in that category with opposing hitters managing to but the bat on the ball just 63.7% of the time, while Morton and Glasnow rank 25th and 26th respectively among the 158 starting pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched.

In other words, the Rays pitchers know how to rack up the K’s, and none did so with more flair (or should I say flail?) than the three anchoring the starting rotation.

Below, we’ll check out some of the times this past season in which Rays hurlers just completely flummoxed opposing hitters and left them likely wishing they’d pursue ulterior career paths, in only for a few seconds.

Blake Snell breaks a future Hall of Famer

Bases loaded, already down 3-0, and now the 3rd ever 100% Hall of Fame vote receiving inductee is at the plate. You’d think that would make a 26 year old pitcher get shaky as he sets to faceoff against Albert Pujols.

Instead, Snell comes right out and challenges Pujols, firing an upper 90’s fastball that Pujols fouls straight back. Snell comes back with another fastball in the upper 90’s for a called strike. With the 0-2 pitch, Snell comes again with more high velocity, but well off the plate. Pujols protecting, somehow manages to foul the pitch.

Again, 0-2, Snell has Pujols right where he wants him, in extreme protection mode.

So, Snell goes to his plus-plus hook and drops it right on home plate. Pujols is befuddled by the pitch and haphazardly attempts to make contact but is denied as the ball bounces harmlessly of the plate and Pujols goes down on strikes, flipping his bat back towards the Angels dugout in disgust.

New title, ‘A future Hall of Famer makes Albert Pujols look silly.’

Charlie Freaking Morton

They don’t all have to be swings and misses. Charlie Morton can basically do whatever he wants with a baseball at any given time, and this is because he is Charlie Freaking Morton. He’ll throw a curveball at any count, in any location, and more than likely, hitters won’t be able to do anything with it. He’ll make an opposing hitter flinch and brace for the inevitable impact of a heater, until the ball decides to sharply break and veer off and back onto the plate. It’s like that driver who decides at the last second that they’re about to miss the exit ramp and suddenly breaks hard right. We humans aren’t wired to react that quickly, so Trey Mancini (and others), can be forgiven for just flinching.

Probably should have taken the Rays offer...

Tyler Glasnow has a ridiculous arsenal, he is also ridiculously athletic for being a giant. Not sure what the problem in Pittsburgh was, but since joining the Rays in 2018, we have seen the full array of his capabilities on the mound and we are impressed.

With blistering heat to go along with a knee-buckling curve, Glasnow has all the makings of an ace.

DJ LeMahieu is among the best contact hitters in the game, which is why the Rays pursued him prior to the 2019 season until he ultimately chose the Yankees. He only struck out 13.7% of the time in 2019, which was among the lowest in baseball this past season and he only whiffed on 6.6% of the pitches he seen. He simply doesn’t swing and miss...and yet.

This pitch bounces at least a foot in front of the plate.

Even with his exceptional contact abilities, LeMaheiu had no chance of getting close to this Glasnow offering. It goes to show how incredible Glasnow can be when he is able to get ahead in the count.

It’s (just!) 77 days until we see some of these diving sliders and sizzling fastballs in actual baseball games.