We are just six days away from Opening Day for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Toronto Blue Jays. Suddenly the roster pitcher is becoming clear. Marc Topkin reported that minor league signee Mark Lowe will not make the team. Lowe seemed like a favorite because of his ability to opt out, but the Rays were seemingly dissuaded enough by his command issues to not give him a spot. Brandon Gomes and Josh Lueke look like they will be in the Opening Day bullpen–but Joe Maddon hinted that there could be a bullpen move coming. In other news, outfielder Brandon Guyer has made the roster and will serve as the Rays’ backup outfielder.
Lowe, 30, first broke into the major leagues back in 2006 but has been inconsistent his entire career. Overall, Lowe has a 4.17 ERA, a 7.7 K/9, a 4.1 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 in 264 appearances, decent numbers but nothing too impressive. This spring, he continued to live up to his reputation: good stuff, including a very good slider, but command of his fastball that came and went. With Brandon Gomes looking as dominant as he had this spring, the Rays could not justify giving Lowe a spot over him. We will have to see if the Rays do make a trade in the coming days, but with an abundance of talented bullpen arms, the Rays prioritized performance over depth and will move on from Lowe.
Guyer, meanwhile, is finally set to get his chance. The 28 year old outfielder was acquired in the Matt Garza trade prior to the 2011 season and homered in his first big league at-bat that May. But shoulder surgery limited Guyer to just 25 games between the minors and majors in 2012 before a thumb injury prevented him from called up in September in 2013. Guyer is too old to be a prospect anymore, and his arm strength and quite possibly his power may never be what they once were. But he remains an excellent defensive outfielder capable of playing centerfield, a very good baserunners, and a solid bat who should at least be a platoon player against lefties. Guyer has been wearing Sam Fuld‘s number 5 this spring, and he will fill Fuld’s role of backup outfielder. Brandon Guyer will not be “Super Sam,” but with a better track record at the plate than Fuld, he will be an interesting player to watch for the Rays this season.
For now we know that Guyer is in, Lowe is out, and another player may be coming long. Stay tuned at Rays Colored Glasses for updates as the news comes in.