Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Sherriff Making Case for 1st Opening Day Roster

Ryan Sherriff (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Ryan Sherriff (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Ryan Sherriff (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Whiplash in 2018

He went on to have another fantastic season for the Red Birds in Triple-A in 2017,  where he posted a 0.99 WHIP and 3.69 ERA. He was done proving himself in Triple-A. He made his Major League debut on August 25 against the Rays where he pitched three shutout innings. It was the first time a Cardinals pitcher had gone three shutout innings in a Major League debut since 1998.

He started his 2018 in Memphis but his phone was ringing just a few days into the season. On March 31 he was called back up. About a week later he hit the DL after his toe was fractured on a comebacker.

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Tommy John Surgery

Not long after his return he was optioned back to Memphis on May 8 and was placed on the DL just ten days later. It wasn’t his toe this time…It would be Tommy John surgery. Sadly, the Cardinals released him in August.

Baseball can be a cruel game. How could such a dominant pitcher on the brink of the Major Leagues find himself unemployed at age 28?

The Rays must have liked what they saw from Sherriff. They signed him in October of that season while he rehabbed from the procedure.

He was able to appear in seven innings in the lower levels of the minors last season. He was ready to prepare for an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster for the first time in 2020, at age 29.

His Place in the Rays Bullpen

There’s always room for a lefty out of the pen with an elite groundball rate. His diving two-seamer plays well against righties and lefties. His dominance in the minors translates well to the new three-batter minimum. Sherriff is a former starter who won two Starting Pitcher of the Year Awards in Palm Beach. As an effective starter, he knows how to pitch to right-handed hitters.

In his nine Minor League seasons he posted the following combined stats:

  • 34-23 W-L
  • 3.04 ERA
  • 47 starts
  • 2 complete games
  • 228 appearances
  • 492.0 innings pitched
  • 0.5 HR/9 IP
  • 1.12 WHIP
  • 2.3 BB/9 IP
  • In 120.1 IP between 2016-2017, he had a 57.9% groundball rate.

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If he continues to dominate this spring, Sherriff could be deputized into one of the top bullpens in the league. It’s been a long road full of groundballs and domination. There’s only one real test left for the left-handed 29-year-old. He’s earned an opportunity to prove himself at the highest level in the world. The Rays know what they have and who they signed in 2018, just five months removed from Tommy John surgery. He’s ready and the Rays are ready.

Ryan Sherriff’s time could be now.