Should Luis Patino start down the stretch for the Tampa Bay Rays?
By George Curcio
As the Tampa Bay Rays look down the road at the last quarter of the 2021 season, major decisions have to be made about the pitching rotation. Namely, the starters.
The Rays have been successful relying on a pitching staff that has been largely fluid. This is, in part, to having a club-record number of relievers on the injured list this season.
This has resulted in a Tampa-to-Durham shuttle as the Rays have recalled and demoted the same pitchers constantly, with some of them nearing ten recalls for the season.
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Luis Patino, and the Rays rotation
The starting rotation, however, has also been affected. The main goal for the Rays has been to keep fresh arms available. The starting rotation suffered its biggest blow in June with the loss of Tyler Glasnow to Tommy John surgery.
Another arm that has been disabled is Chris Archer, who is slated to return this weekend from trouble with forearm tightness that has troubled him since April.
The Rays are still unsure of using Archer as a starter or reliever, probably depending on his start against the White Sox this weekend. If Archer moves into the starting rotation, it will probably be in place of Michael Wacha, who has struggled mightily in his last three starts.
One arm that is expected to stay in the rotation is Luis Patino. Patino is one of the Rays’ highest-ranked prospects, and when they recalled Patino on July 22, a commitment was made to Patino that he would remain a starter.
Luis Patino as a full-time starter
Since that recall, Patino has had a 1-1 record in five starts. His BABIP for that stretch is .235, which will likely regress towards the .318 he established this year at Durham. One problem Patino has had is giving up home runs – he allowed five of them in his five games since returning.
He has allowed a rate of 1.78 homers per nine innings with the Rays since July 22, pitching in 25.1 innings in that time. At Durham, his home run rate was .061 per nine innings.
Patino was not a gopher-ball pitcher this year at Triple-A Durham. En route to a 3-1 record with a 3.07 ERA, Patino yielded only two home runs in 29.1 innings pitched. In a July 29th start at home for the Rays against the Yankees, he yielded only three hits over six innings. He also had eight strikeouts.
The potential clearly is there and made Patino the key piece of return in the Blake Snell trade. The question for the Rays now is whether they stick with Patino or look elsewhere.
On Saturday, he evened his record for the season at 3-3, as the Rays beat the White Sox. Patino threw six innings and gave up five hits. One of those hits was a home run by Chicago catcher Seby Zavala.