Rays Notes: Joe Maddon, Rays Show Confidence in Bullpen Despite Struggles

By Robbie Knopf

Joe Maddon is an eternal optimist. No matter what happens, somehow he always figures out a way to back his players and try to paint the picture that everything is right for his team. In the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game, Maddon was willing to take action when it was clear that Fernando Rodney could not do the job, removing him for Joel Peralta. After the game, though, Maddon remained as confident as ever about his struggling closer.

"“We’ve got to keep putting the guys out there at the appropriate times and wait for it to work,” he said. “There is no other way to do it. There’s no other options. This is the way it has to work. And you’ve got stay with it and show support.”"

It seems like there is a hint of desperation in those comments and they’re certainly not positive, but Maddon refused to acknowledge the possibility of removing Rodeny from the closer role and believed that all the Rays can do is wait for him to turn himself around. Maddon did address other bullpen decisions following the game.

"Still, there were questions. Why not bring Joel Peralta back for the 10th after he threw eight pitches to finish the ninth? Because of cumulative workload. Why have the lefty Ramos face the right-handed DeRosa? Because he actually considered it a favorable matchup. Why go to Farnsworth rather than Josh Lueke, whom he entrusted in a key situation Monday (though with bad results)? Lueke had already warmed up too much. And why not walk the dangerous Bautista — who earlier homered off Hellickson — with a base open and have Farnsworth face (the also dangerous) Edwin Encarnacion with the bases loaded? Because “that’s a tough position to put your pitcher in” and he preferred Farnsworth pitch Bautista carefully."

I don’t really understand “Lueke had warmed up too much,” but other than that, those are pretty valid reasons. But that doesn’t change the fact that Maddon is going out there with pitchers who are not the Rays’ best right now in critical situations and losing himself games in the process. Nevertheless, Ben Zobrist believes that his teammates are just going through a rough patch and will be just fine and Kyle Farnsworth shared a similar sentiment.

"“There’s no question we’ve been spoiled here for a long time so, sure, the expectations are always higher when you’ve been that good in the past,” Ben Zobrist said. “I think realistically every team’s bullpen is going to go through a rough patch. That’s just something they’re working through right now.”“You’ve just got to keep on going,” Farnsworth said. “These days are going to come and hopefully, eventually, we’re going to come out of it. … The talent is certainly down there. We’ve done it before. We just have to keep our heads up and just keep battling and just keep going at it.”"

For the Rays, these are their guys, and after all the success they’ve had, you want to keep trusting them and believe that they’ll find a way to break out of this horrible slump. However, right now we’re reaching the point of insanity–doing the same misguided thing over and over yet expecting divergent results–and something has to be done. Joe Maddon and the Rays are refusing to accept the reality right now. How many more times will they lose games because of too much faith in struggling players that may never turn themselves around?