Oliver Drake is back with the Tampa Bay Rays as the team has resigned the right-hander to a Major League contract for an unspecified amount. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Rays have traded RHP John Curtiss to the Miami Marlins.
Drake, 34, enjoyed the best season of his five year big league career with the Rays during the 2019 season when he was able to translate his high swinging strike percentage into higher strikeout numbers finishing the season with a 32.0 K%.
Drake weaponizes a unique delivery that makes him extremely effective against left-handed hitters as the ball seemingly defies physics on its way to the plate. During the 2019 season, left-handed batters hit just .147/.163/196 against Drake over 104 plate appearances.
After all the success of his 2019 campaign, the 2020 year was one to forget for Drake. Making just 11 appearances, Drake allowed seven runs over 11 innings pitched. He would spend a month on the Injured List and with the season lasting just 60 games, Drake effectively missed half of the season.
He returned for the playoffs, but would go down with another injury that ultimately cost him his spot on the 40-man roster as the Rays designated him for assignment.
Drake became a free agent as a result of being DFA’d. However, the Rays and Drake have come to an agreement for his return. He will be competing among an increasingly crowded glut of pitchers who are vying for one of the few bullpen spots available on the Rays staff.
Despite signing a Major League contract, Drake isn’t expected to make the Rays Opening Day roster as he is still recovering from a flexor strain that he suffered during the postseason last October. Marc Topkin reports that he is expected to be ready around the middle of the upcoming season.