The 20th spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays opened for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday with Chris Archer sounding-off on burden placed on starters.
The first workout is in the books for the Tampa Bay Rays as the pitchers and catchers took to the various fields at the Charlotte Sports Complex on Monday, minus catcher Wilson Ramos. The news though was all-good, as he was tending to a family emergency and not related to his injury.
“The best information, it’s family related,” Kevin Cash said. “No emergency to my knowledge. It’s really not that big of a concern simply because he’s going to get his physical and probably will spend a lot of time in the training room rehabbing.”
This past off-season has been a very busy one as the Tampa Bay Rays added 14 players to their current 40-man roster which now stands at 39 due to the departure of Eddie Gamboa who had been DFA’d Monday morning and traded later in the day to the Texas Rangers.
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Taking his spot on the roster was pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who was then placed on the 60-DL creating the opening on the roster. Eovaldi is expected to miss the entire 2017 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
It was however Chris Archer taking center-stage with the media when asked about how the team intends to rebound from their 94-loss season a year ago. His reply, “The Rays need to be more well-rounded.”
“People are going to have to step up in the bullpen. We’re going to have to score more runs than we did last year, because when we did pitch well, we still struggled to win games,” said Archer.
"Archer feels that the burden should not be all on the starters for the team to improve. He takes responsibility for what he can do, “You either win, or you learn. I learned 19 times last year.”"
The Tampa Bay Rays have always relied on pitching and defense, that is how this organization has been put together, but last season there was a shift with the addition of power to the lineup despite hitting a franchise record 216 home runs that alone did not create enough runs to win games.
At the same time, the starters – all of them struggled and did not perform. Yes, there were many times when they pitched well, but they could not get passed the fifth inning before handing the ball over to the bullpen.
Rays pitchers allowed 210 home runs to their opponents, the fourth most in the American League. The starters gave up 137 (7th most in the AL), with Archer accounting for 30, followed by Jake Odorizzi (29) and Matt Andriese (15) – plus former pitchers Drew Smyly (32) and Matt Moore (20). The bullpen was not far behind, as Erasmo Ramirez gave up 14 in 85-IP and Steve Geltz 11 in 26.2-IP.
Then again, there was Archer who just could not get out of the gate – losing 19 times, in what was hopefully an aberration and not something, he or the team will see in 2017.
He has plenty to prove this season and with a bit of luck his missed time during camp with the Rays (pitching in the World Baseball Classic) does not have an ill effect on his pitching during the season.
There were the injuries, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza, Brad Boxberger and Alex Cobb who did not make his 2016 debut until after the All-Star break as he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery that certainly played a part on the season.
Bottom line, pitching – especially the starters need to be better. Bottom line, run production needs to be better. This team is built around their pitching, the players know that and they must capitalize on this for their success.