We start a weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight, in Tampa (or really St. Petersburg).
The Rays are 10-11, sitting in 3rd in the AL East, a game ahead of the Jays. They sit last him the league in runs scored per game, at 3.28 (we are about league average at 3.96). But they are second from the best in runs allowed per game, at 3.38 (while we are 10th in the league at 4.29).
I sent off some questions to Daniel Russell of DRaysBay, and he was nice enough to answer them. Thanks Daniel.
Just a question for me....my Jays seem to have changed from a great offensive team, with iffy starting pitching, to a poor offensive with good starting pitching (and a terrible bullpen, but we will ignore that for now). I don't know how to cheer for a team like that. Could you give me some hints?
I know this life! The struggle is real!
I would recommend falling in love with pitch sequencing. Knowing your guys, their arsenals, what they offer and when, and then watching it unfold. Pitching is the majority of baseball on television anyway. Might as well know the starters well!
Chris Archer is having a bit of a slow start, what's going on with him? Are you worried at all? He really does seem like a good guy.
Archer has had a few rough outings, but they were mostly related to the environment he was in. Nerves on Opening Day leading to a wild fastball. Weather being too cold for a great grip on the slider. Having to face very good teams. He'll be just fine, not worried here at all.
We discussed this at length on our podcast this week, if you'd like to hear more.
With Bradley Boxberger hurt and Jake McGee gone, who are the Rays going to in late innings with a lead? Do you have confidence in the back end of the bullpen?
The true closer seems to be Alex Colome at the moment, who is the right handed compliment to Enny Romero's left handed look. Both players are out of options pitchers that have really come to life this April.
But surprisingly the most common name when it matters has been last year's fifth starter Erasmo Ramirez. He's a true rubber man, able to start or relieve any time any where. With eight off-days in the first two months, the Rays have only used him as the fifth starter once. The team may not need him to fill that role until late May, so expect to see him out of the pen again.
Steven Souza has been great. Is this the year he becomes a star or are you taking a wait and see approach with him?
I've been really impressed by his maturity on the field and at the plate. He's gone from "old prospect" to "legit starter" and that's been fun. The hope is that it clicks all season, but he's had some stellar moments early in the season.
Who is your favorite Ray to watch?
Right now it's Big Swinging Corey Dickerson. Dude has been tearing the cover off the ball, and teams are clearly afraid of throwing to him. The Orioles intentionally walked him twice in the last series. He hits mammoth home runs, I recommend cowering when he's at the plate. Mercy.
What do you think, in a competitive AL East, can the Rays stay and the race and make the playoffs? What would have to go right?
This division looks like it could be separated top-to-bottom by five games all season. Right now, I'm not counting anybody in or out!
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