The lone gunman from Tampa Bay’s three-headed rotation in the playoffs, Tyler Glasnow will now bear the full weight of being the Rays ace. Between his 2019 and 2020 performances, however, theres certainly room for variability in his expectations. After being, more or less, a runaway Cy Young favorite through his first eight starts, his 2019 season was derailed by injury. Pitching, conveniently enough, nearly the same number of innings in both years, Glasnow saw his ERA rise predictably from 1.78 in 2019 to 4.08 in 2020.
Leading into 2021, it is reasonable to be concerned about his capacity to handle a full ace workload even for a Rays team that generally limits innings for its starters. Glasnow holds a career high 111.2 innings from 2018 while former teammates Blake Snell and Charlie Morton have hit 180.2 and 194.2 innings respectively while holding the ace role on the team. This said, Glasnow has an…interesting pitch that he is working on this offseason.
Commonly relied upon as a bulk pitcher more than a traditional starter, Ryan Yarbrough will certainly get his chance to legitimately crack the rotation in 2021. Always a reliable innings eater, Yarbrough will look to likely top his career high of 147.1 innings pitched and retain his commonly great FIP numbers from years past.
The Rays latest late career pickup, Rich Hill brings with him 16 years of sub 3.80 ERA pitching and as a lefty will help matchup lineups a lot like Blake Snell used to. Additionally, Hill carries a curveball that breaks far harder than Snell’s while comparing favorably as well to Charlie Morton’s bender. Despite a fastball that now sits high 80’s to low 90’s, Hill gets plenty of put aways on his heater thanks to a high spin rate.
Though he is a virtual guarantee to run into injury issues as he has his entire career, when Hill hits the mound he gets the job done.
One of two major reclamation projects in the rotation, it is still to be seen exactly what Michael Wacha can bring to the Rays. At times Wacha has been electric, he made an All-Star Game in his 3rd season in St. Louis, but in recent years he’s largely been flat and his skyrocketing FIP tells the story. Over the first five seasons of his career, Wacha carried a sensational 3.61 FIP but has sunk to 5.08 over the last three campaigns.
The Rays have worked greater miracles with lesser arms but Wacha certainly could be a challenge.
Recovering from surgery to address Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Chris Archer didn’t pitch an inning in 2020 and will now be looking to bounce back with his former team. In his first tour with the team, Archer was dominant carrying a 3.69 ERA sporting three different campaigns with an ERA under 3.33 as well as three years with over 200 innings pitched.
Since going to Pittsburgh in a wildly ill-fated trade with the Pirates, Archer’s ERA skyrocketed to 4.92 and his 119.2 innings in 2019 were the least he tallied in a full season his entire career. If there were ever a team to find his fountain of youth it would be the Rays and all reports out of camp seem to be indicating a happy, healthy Archer.