The Tampa Bay Rays spring has gotten off to a good start, but yesterday they suffered an ugly loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Matt Moore got rocked, giving up 4 ER and only lasting two outs, and the usually great defense had an off-day as well. Here is a look at which Rays will see action today as they look to bounce back today at 1:05 ET against the New York Yankees in Tampa.
Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer
Chris Archer gets the starting nod today, and looks to help the Rays rebound from yesterday’s game in which they gave up 10 runs and 14 hits. He looked good in his first outing of the spring last Tuesday, and looks to build on the 2 inning, 1 hit appearance. As has been the case this whole spring, Archer continues to try to develop his changeup. Archer already has a nasty fastball-slider combination, but for the most part in his minor league career his changeup lagged far behind. However, in his first extended big league action last season, it began showing flashes of becoming a pitch that Archer could use to get hitters out, although it was still inconsistent. He looks to continue to hone in the pitch’s consistency today as he looks to throw 3-4 innings.
Josh Lueke is also scheduled to throw for the Rays today as he is in the midst of the most important spring of his career. Lueke has tantalized with his potential, even doing so good as to post a 0.63 ERA in Triple-A last year. But, his skills have never translated to the big leagues, and he is now out of options. In the interest of depth, the Rays won’t want to lose him for good, which actually boosts his chances of making the big league roster. However, the Rays have plenty of relievers, and if Lueke shows that he is once again going to be subpar against big league talent, he will find himself exposed to waivers before the spring is over.
Seven of the nine players in the batting order today figure to be locks to make the big league roster. The Rays continue their efforts this spring to get players exposed to multiple positions in order to increase their versatility. Matt Joyce gets the start in left field, even though he figures to be the team’s primary DH going forward. Sean Rodriguez gets the nod at third despite mainly playing left field and second base in 2013, and Jayson Nix will start at shortstop after also playing some second base this spring. Figueroa is a natural 2B, but he too us capable of moving around the diamond. The Rays love their versatility, and this lineup shows that.
This lineup also features plenty of players with something to prove this year. Desmond Jennings hasn’t quite lived up to his potential yet, and he needs to become more consistent both offensively and defensively, otherwise prospect Kevin Kiermaier could soon arrive to take over his starting spot. Wil Myers had a great rookie year, and he looks to prove he that belongs in the conversation among the league’s best hitters in 2014. Last season, Sean Rodriguez finally translated some of his above-average raw bat speed into power that showed up in games. He hopes to continue this trend in 2014 to maintain a hold on his roster spot despite the Rays having some promising young middle infielders that could become big league relevant within the next year or two. Last but not least, newly acquired Ryan Hanigan struggled mightily with the bat in 2013. He has been a decent hitter over his career, and looks to prove that his struggles were due to injuries rather than lost ability. Overall, Rays’ players have plenty to prove, and the spring is the best time to start proving doubters wrong.
The game will be available to view on MLB.TV if you have a subscription and also on 620 WDAE. Check back at Rays Colored Glasses after the game to take a look at the recap and analysis of the game.