PECOTA is unwavering in its love of the Rays, despite recent evidence of mediocrity. It projects them to have the second best record in the American League the rest of the way at 64-53. Tampa Bay comes into the weekend series at 21-23, just 1/2 game behind the Yankees in the standings. They are one of a half-dozen of teams on the fringes of the Wild Card race despite receiving disappointing performances from several key contributors in the first two months. If those players can bounce-back and their stars get healthy, the Rays have a chance to live up to PECOTA’s high expectations.
Tampa Bay Rays 2016 Team Rankings
True Average (TAv): .271 – 3rd in AL
Deserved Run Average (DRA): 3.91- 2nd in AL
Defensive Efficiency (DE): .721- 5th in AL
It has been a tumultuous start to the season for the Rays ace. Archer has a 5.16 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in his first 10 starts. With almost a third of his season in the books, the sample size is getting a little big to chalk it up to a fluke. There were signs of the old Archer returning before a 6 run drubbing by the Tigers in which Archer couldn’t escape the fourth inning.
There are some positive signs however. His strikeout rate of 11.2 would be a career best and his stuff seems undiminished. His four-seamer remains in the mid 90’s, and his nasty slider looks as sharp as ever. He is throwing his mediocre change up nearly twice as often as last year and is getting burned on it. Assuming Archer is healthy, he may just be a mechanical tweak or two from his old self. His walk and home run rates suggest location is the issue. Let’s hope he keeps struggling with that for at least one more start.
Despite the ugly run prevention numbers, there has been a lot for Rays fans to like about Moore’s 2016 season. His average fastball velocity of 92.7 is his highest since his rookie year in 2012. Control has long been Moore’s main bug bear, but through nine starts he has posted a 2.8 BB/9, which would be a career low. He’s striking hitters out at almost exactly his career rate (8.6 vs. 8.5 K/9). The reason for the 5.47 ERA seems to be an abundance of home runs, but Moore’s 16.7% HR/FB rate suggests he’s been the victim of some bad luck in that respect.
Odorizzi’s peripherals have dipped slightly across the board from his career 2015 season, however what remains is still a solid mid-rotation starter. He throws five pitches, but relies primarily on his low-90’s heater and the splitter he added prior to 2014. PECOTA sees more of the same the rest of the way, projecting 1.3 WARP and a 4.17 DRA in 21 more starts. At 26-years-old in just his third full season, there is still the chance he builds on last season’s success, but it’s probably more likely that what you see is what you get.
Late-blooming outfielder Brandon Guyer (.366 TAv) continues to defy expectations, hitting .327/.410/.564 through his first 29 games played, with a TAv that ranks third in baseball among batters with 100 or more PAs. Utilityman Steve Pearce (.353 TAv), who signed a modest one year $4.75 million pact with the team this winter, is another in a long line of unlikely Rays stars plucked from the scrap heap. He has established himself as the team’s premier source of power out of Tampa Bay’s cleanup spot.
Steven Souza (.298 TAv) is belatedly proving PECOTA prescient for its optimism about the 27-year-old outfielder. Evan Longoria (.278 TAv) isn’t the star he was, but he still provides 20-homer pop and excellent defense. Brad Miller is the very definition of average at shortstop, but there’s no harm in that.
After those guys, things drop off considerably. Corey Dickerson (.245 TAv) and Logan Morrison (.227 TAv) have been truly awful since the Rays traded for them this offseason. Dickerson has kept the power since leaving Coors, but is well below the Mendoza line. Former top prospect Desmond Jennings (.212 TAv) has struggled to regain his form following an injury plagued 2015 season and is likely on thin ice as he approaches his 30th birthday. Catching tandem Curtis Casali (.216 TAv) and Hank Conger (.141 TAv) have combined for an underwhelming 2.2 adjusted FRAA in 2016, which is not nearly enough to excuse their woeful hitting.
- Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier broke two bones in his left hand while diving for a fly ball on Saturday against Detroit. He is expected to miss 8-10 weeks following Tuesday’s surgery. Triple-A outfielder Mikie Mahtook was promoted in his place.
- On May 14, second baseman Logan Forsythe was placed on the 15-day DL with a hairline fracture in his left shoulder. Forsythe told reporters that the best case scenario would have him return in about four weeks. He will be reevaluated in early June.
- Starter Alex Cobb and former Yankee ace Chase Whitley are both in the home stretch of their rehab from twin May 2015 Tommy John surgeries. Both Rays starters have begun a throwing program and are expected to rejoin the pitching staff sometime in July if all goes to plan.
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