The Tampa Bay Rays have as much patience as any team in baseball. They never panic when a player is struggling, and they give players known for character issues opportunities to be parts of their team nonetheless. But at a certain point, enough is enough and even the Rays can’t make excuses for a player anymore. The Tampa Bay Rays have designated right-hander Josh Lueke for assignment, calling up Kirby Yates to replace him.
We can talk about Josh Lueke’s past, but this is a baseball move, plain and simple. Lueke has a 5.64 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched and there is no reason to think that he can be an effective reliever in the major leagues. He has electric stuff but simply leaves too many pitches up in the zone. They have given him three years to figure himself out, but it hasn’t happened. The Rays have officially given up.
Yates, meanwhile, finally gets a chance after working his way from non-drafted free agent into the Durham Bulls’ dominant closer. The last two years at Triple-A, Yates has a 1.45 ERA, striking out 128 while walking just 32–an even 4.0-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. With a fastball touching 94 MPH and a very good slider, he has what it takes to be an effective middle reliever for the Rays immediately. While Rays fans will be excited to see Lueke go, they should be equally enthusiastic about Yates’ promotion.