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Tampa Bay Rays Game 71: Alex Colome Masterful in Loss

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The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Cleveland Indians 1-0 on Sunday, but there is at least a chance that they gained something more important. A major question for the Rays all season has been “Who will step up with so many players injured?” Alex Colome has been inconsistent all season, but this game may be the first step in his quest to reach his upside. If he does, that could  make the Rays rotation a force to be reckoned with even without Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and for the moment, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, and maybe Erasmo Ramirez.

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Colome began the game with 5.1 perfect innings and finished with 7 shutout frames allowing just 1 hit, striking out 4 while walking 2. His groundout to flyout ratio was an outstanding 9-2, and he was extremely efficient with his pitches, needing just 87 to get that deep into the game. Interestingly enough, his secondary pitches weren’t that great, but his fastball command was pinpoint and he used it to force weak contact time and again. Colome had reached 6 innings in only 3 of his previous 10 starts, and the Rays would love to see him deliver more games like this.

Alex Colome has incredible stuff, combining a mid-90’s fastball with two secondary pitches that flash plus in his slider/cutter and changeup along with a get-me-over curveball. His biggest issue is that his fastball is straight and his command of it isn’t always there–when he isn’t throwing his fastball to the corners, he can get hit very hard. The hope is that as Colome matures as a pitcher, his focus will continue to improve and his lapses of location will become rarer. If that happens, the Rays will be looking at a number three starter and maybe even more.

Cody Anderson, an ex-Rays draft pick, was brilliant on the other side for Cleveland, allowing no runs on 6 hits in 7.2 shutout innings, striking out 4 while walking 1. He also forced a ton of groundballs, managing an 11-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Our scouting report of him in the piece linked above was mostly correct, but he also knew exactly where his fastball was going and his changeup was a little better than expected. I wondered whether the latter was the case as I looked at the way he improved his splits in the minors this year, but I have only myself to blame for not writing that earlier.

Xavier Cedeno tossed a scoreless frame behind Colome, but Kevin Jepsen allowed 2 singles and an intentional walk before giving up a walk-off sac fly to David Murphy. In fairness to him, the two hits were bad luck–they came on groundballs–but it is always frustrating to lose a game like that. At least Colome’s long outing preserved the rest of the Rays’ bullpen, which should be ready to go on Monday.

The Tampa Bay Rays remain a game up on the New York Yankees, who also lost on Sunday, but need to get back in the win column as they take on the Toronto Blue Jays beginning on Monday. Matt Andriese will get the ball for the Rays against Toronto’s Drew Hutchison, who is 6-1 but has just a 5.33 ERA on the year.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Face Off Vs. Ex-Draft Pick Cody Anderson

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