2024 Tampa Bay Rays Preview: Bullpen

With pitchers and catchers starting to report to spring training from around the league, here is a look at the Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen ahead of the 2024 season.
Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Pitchers and catchers are starting to report to their respective spring training hubs, and that can only mean one thing: baseball is back. So, in the spirit of the season, here is a look at the Rays' bullpen as players begin to arrive in Port Charlotte.

The bullpen for Tampa Bay cannot be talked about without mentioning the team's closer Pete Fairbanks. He has a lightning fast, 100-mph fastball. He finished top 20 in MLB in saves with 25 last season and had a 2.38 ERA. His K rate was also off of the charts, with 68 strikeouts in 45.1 innings of play. The Tampa Bay closer should be a bullpen anchor in 2024.

So who's the setup man prior to Fairbanks? An answer could be Jason Adam who, much like Fairbanks, had closer experience in 2023. He brings good spin on his pitches that are mainly changeups and sliders. His sub-3.00 ERA and WHIP right around 1.00 create a closer-like presence. He also has an insane K rate, much like Fairbanks'. Simply put, the back end of this Tampa Bay bullpen will be a nightmare if opposing teams are trying to come back against them.

Who in this bullpen can eat innings? Shawn Armstrong had a strong 2023 with a 1.38 ERA in 52 innings pitched. He also added a sub-1.00 WHIP to his resume, with one of the lower walk rates in Major League Baseball (11 walks out of 207 batters faced).

Another pitcher to keep an eye on is the southpaw Colin Poche. He has "setup man" ability for the Rays with a 2.23 ERA in 60.2 innings of work. His abundance of breaking balls led to lots of chases and fewer hard hits from opposing lineups. He is a guy manager Kevin Cash could use throughout sticky situations.

Kevin Kelly is another pitcher who could be due for a big season in 2024. He kept his walks to a minimum in 2023, at 15 across 276 batters faced. He could be a pitcher, much like Armstrong, that could also eat a ton of innings.

Per usual, the Rays bullpen is full of the weapons needed to keep them in games and to hold leads if necessary. Much of their recent success has been credited to their great bullpen play, and if it continues, they could find themselves contending for a lot of wins in 2024.