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Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Yarbrough could be fantasy stud in wild 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, FL JULY 21: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field on July 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL JULY 21: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field on July 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Rays News: The 2020 season is on and it will look a lot different than what we are accustomed to. Could this unique situation make unique players unlikely fantasy studs?

Tampa Bay Rays: 2020 could go down as a season designed for the Rays to dominate. The Rays are the masters of innovation and thinking outside of the box. This entire season is taking place outside of the box, so it’s right in their wheelhouse.

The Tampa Bay Rays are the innovators of the opener strategy and that may come into play this season. With only 60 games, we can only speculate as to how manager Kevin Cash will utilize his pitching staff. One guy we’ve seen him use in multiple roles is Ryan Yarbrough.

Yarbrough was the long man out of the bullpen after the team would open the games with relief pitchers. He was put into positions to win games without being overexposed or asked to go longer than necessary.

Last year, through the Rays’ first 60 games (June 6), the league leaders in wins were Hyun-Jin Ryu, Justin Verlander, and Domingo German, all with nine.

Justin Verlander led the league with 93.1 innings and a 9-2 record, although he had started 14 games at that point.

Tampa Bay Rays – Opener and Bulk Guys

In the Rays’ 60th game of the season, they employed the opener strategy against the Tigers. Ryne Stanek opened the game’s first two innings allowing one run, Jalen Beeks then took over for the next 4.1 innings not allowing one run and ultimately earning the win before two other relievers came in and shut the Tigers down the rest of the way. The strategy had been working out perfectly to this point. Look at the ERAs of the Rays pitchers in the game that day.

Stanek – 2.88
Beeks (W) – 2.76
Roe – 2.95
Wood – 2.33
Castillo – 2.12

I suspect we will see the team employ a similar strategy this season to get their top arms more action and to bombard the other teams with different looks.

From a fantasy perspective, the bulk guy would be the beneficiary.

We recently profiled Ryan Yarbrough and just how good he was in 2019 here.

Tampa Bay Rays – Yarbrough Notes

Last season Yarbrough set the Rays’ single-season record with a 0.995 WHIP, posted a 3.55 FIP, and led all Rays’ starting pitchers with a 3.2% BB rate. He finished in the 99th percentile in hard-hit percentage, meaning nobody could get solid wood on this guy.

The average exit velocity off of him was just 84.1 mph, good for the top one percent in the league.

Despite only starting 14 of his 28 appearances, he was second on the staff in innings pitched. There was some speculation as to whether or not the Rays would stick with him as a traditional starter or roll with him as a bulk guy in 2020. Either way, I believe he has real value due to his ability to induce soft contact, but the Rays could get creative and really need to rely on bulk guys out of the bullpen in critical moments this season.

After June 8 of last season, Yarbrough struck out 94 batters in 107 innings while walking 12 and posting a 3.45 ERA.

Ryan Yarbrough should post solid ratio numbers like WHIP and ERA, but he has a chance to rack up a ton of wins in a strange season. If you haven’t drafted yet, he could be found near the bottom of the draft. If you have drafted already, you are likely to be able to pick up from the free agent list.

Next. Rays sign Nick Bitsko. dark

Ryan Yarbrough could be a real wild card in a wild season.

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