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Deja vu: For Springs and Mazza, Fenway Park will feel familiar

Rays traded for the two pitchers this offseason

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays announced this afternoon that Chaz Roe will head to the Injured List with a sore shoulder. In a corresponding move, the Rays have promoted Chris Mazza from the taxi-squad for this week’s three game series in Boston.

In promoting Mazza, the Rays roll into town with two pitchers they traded for this offseason, the other being LHP Jeffrey Springs. Both pitchers had real difficulty on the mound in 2020, but were acquired in a fairly expensive deal with a simple request: trust your stuff.

Springs — who had a 7.08 ERA and 5.20 FIP last season — made his Rays debut in the opening series, recording two strikeouts with one hit allowed. The first K came on a slider that was frankly unfair:

There isn’t much that can be done with that pitch. And even though Springs was nibbling at the edges for all but one pitch thrown in his debut, the slider was effective in setting up the fastball, which had real life when thrown up above the zone, particularly as showcased with this strikeout pitch:

Springs did not use his change up across his ten pitches thrown, but there has been speculation that it could be his best pitch. The Rays might have simplified the approach or it might be something under further consideration. We’ll have to wait and see.

While Springs lives north and south with his stuff, Mazza is quite the opposite, boasting three fastballs (sinker, four-seam, cutter) and a slider that spread his arsenal’s movement from east to west.

A journeyman at age-31 now pitching for his eighth organization (if you count independent leagues), and a relative of Joe DiMaggio, Mazza held a 4.80 ERA and 6.05 FIP in 2020 over 6 starts (9 appearances).

Ian took a deep dive into what Mazza has to offer in the article linked above, and concluded that most of his stats didn’t match the stuff, like his surprisingly low 33% groundball rate. What he’s become now that he’s had a chance to work with the Rays coaches will be interesting to see.

Mazza is currently stretched out as much as any Rays starter right now, which is approximately 70+ pitches. He will be wearing the No. 15 jersey in 2021.