Starts have been hard to come by for Brandon Guyer this season. Even though he made the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster out of spring training, he has started just eight of the Rays’ 42 games and understandably has been rusty. Considering how sporadic his playing time has been–and that he had never been a bench player before in his life–it is not surprising that Guyer entered Thursday’s game with just a .171/.194/.200 line in 37 plate appearances. He looked lost, and Rays fans had to wonder why he was still on the roster. However, Guyer suddenly had an opportunity to get more at-bats with Ben Zobrist hitting the disabled list, and the Rays had to hope that Guyer could get himself on track. In his first game since Zobrist’s injury, Brandon Guyer showed everyone exactly why he is worth keeping.
In the top of the second inning, the Ray had runners on first and third with two outs and were hoping for a clutch hit as Guyer came to the plate. Sure enough, he delivered, drilling a single to left field to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the frame, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman C.J. Cron hit a sinking line drive to left field, but Brandon Guyer made a diving catch to rob him of a hit. It was easily the best inning of Guyer’s season, and it was enough to be encouraged. But Guyer was not done. In the seventh inning, Tyler Skaggs left an 0-1 fastball up and on the outer part of the plate, and Guyer destroyed it, drilling an opposite-field home run to right-center. Based on how badly he was playing, who knew that Guyer had opposite-field power? The Rays lost the game, but Guyer’s performance gives the Rays something to be exciting about moving forward.
After years of injury issues, Brandon Guyer is 28 years old now–Logan Forsythe is actually younger than him. But the bottom line for the Rays is that Guyer has the ability to help their team and deserves a place on their roster. He is an impressive defender, he can hit left-handed pitching and just maybe righties, and he has tantalizing power and speed. His all-around abilities are far too good for the Rays to let him go. Guyer’s performance against the Angels was just one good game, but hopefully it prompts the Rays to give him more at-bats. If Guyer can start playing to his talent level, he can be a contributor to the Rays’ success both this season and for years to come.