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Tampa Bay Rays: Ryan Yarbrough deserves second start behind Morton

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on against the Washington Nationals in the second inning of a the Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 28, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 28: Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on against the Washington Nationals in the second inning of a the Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 28, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tampa Bay Rays News: Manager Kevin Cash has named the first two starting pitchers of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays News: After the team announced Charlie Morton would get the Opening Day start, they announced Ryan Yarbrough would get the second nod.

Yarbrough came to camp with a stated goal of proving he should be a full-time starting pitcher to the team. He may not have the sexy strikeout numbers but he does everything else right.

Last season he finished in the 99th percentile in hard-hit percentage and in the 100th percentile in average exit velocity. In 2019, he set a franchise record as a starting pitcher with 0.995 WHIP. That was also good for third-best in the league behind only Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander.

Not only is he one of the hardest pitchers in the league to get solid wood on a ball with, but he also doesn’t hand out free passes easily. Last season, he led all Rays’ starters with a minuscule 3.2% walk percentage.

The average exit velocity on a Ryan Yarbrough pitch last season was just 84.1 miles per hour, which is good for the top one percent in the league.

While he had a rough start to the season, from June 8th on, Yarbrough pitched in 107.0 innings, struck out 94, walked just 12, and posted a 3.45 ERA.

With Morton pegged as the Opening Day starter, there has been some uncertainty behind him. Blake Snell has been trying to get stretched out while Tyler Glasnow just returned from quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Yonny Chirinos also made his return after a bout with the illness this past weekend.

Ryan Yarbrough presents a reliable option with a good track record and a solid showing in summer camp thus far. The 28-year-old has a chance to establish himself as a key cog in one of the best rotations (on paper) that the game has to offer.

Next. Jim "The Rookie" Morris talks teaching. dark

Charlie Morton will open the season on Friday, July 24 and Yarbrough will get the start the following day.

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