Rays Notes: Upton Close to Returning, Rays Sign RP Pendleton


The Rays got good news regarding B.J. Upton and he has felt fine over the course of his 6-game rehab stint and he is set to return to the big league roster on either Thursday or Friday, as Mark Topkin talked about. Stephen Vogt is the assured roster casualty after his unfortunate dismal start to his major league career. Upton will provide the Rays with some additional pop and speed in their lineup, and considering 2012 is his walk-year, hopefully this is year some of that upside we know is still there somewhere finally comes out.

The other news item will hopefully not have immediate major league ramifications. The Rays signed ex-Yankee and ex-Astros reliever Lance Pendleton to a minor league deal, signing him away from the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, where he was set to pitch in 2012 if no big league team came calling. Roger Mooney of TBO first reported the acquisition (like a second ahead of Topkin), and the Skeeters themselves did this nice write-up.

Pendleton’s overall FIP is a solid 3.42 in 12o minor league appearances, 98 starts, but his FIP jumped to 4.68 at Triple-A with just a 6.0 K/9 and a 1.2 HR/9 before he posted a 6.75 ERA and a scary 8.07 FIP in 15 major league relief appearances and 18.2 IP as he struck out just 13 compared to 11 walks and allowed 6 home runs. Pendleton tossed three perfect frames with 2 strikeouts in his first MLB appearance for the Yankees against the Texas Rangers and didn’t allow a run in his first 7 major league appearances, but the league figured him out after that, demolishing him to the tune of a 13.50 ERA between the Yankees and Astros. Pendleton was a 4th round pick by the Yankees in 2005, but the Astros were absolutely enamored with him, drafting him in 2002 although he did not sign, selecting him in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft but later returning him to the Yankees, and then selecting him off waivers from the Yanks in September of 2011 and then re-signing him this offseason before finally giving up on him, releasing him at the end of spring training.

We have some Pitch F/X data on Pendleton from Brooks Baseball, so let’s take a quick look at that.

(For a general explanation of the topic of Pitch F/X and specifically how to read this type of graph, please click here.)

Pendleton works with a four-pitch arsenal, but utilizes primarily his high-80’s fastball, which has solid sink but does move much at all horizontally and is a hittable pitch that was hit hard in the majors in 2011. Pendleton would be better served throwing a sinker or cutter. He gets solid depth on his curveball from the same arm slot as his fastball and that’s his best pitch. His slider is fringe-average at best, acting as more of a groundball pitch and not forcing anybody to swing and miss, while his change is below-average because it differentiates too much from his fastball. Pendleton projects best as a long reliever with his four-pitch mix that does not intimidate hitters one bit, and I would be curious to see if the Rays try to tinker with Pendleton’s fastball.

Pendleton projects as an innings-eating starter for Triple-A Durham with the Rays going through roster shuffling that has thrown everybody off-base, and he’ll probably see big league time at some point out of pure team need. The Rays are a team that always needs bullpen depth, and although Pendleton does not excite anybody, he has major league experience and will help the Rays fill innings both in Durham and likely at some point in 2012, in the major leagues. Pendleton, unlike some of these other minor leaguers the Rays have taken fliers on, has no upside, but he fills a team need and it’s nice to do that on the cheap.