A look at Shane Baz's first 2024 start in return to Rays

Shane Baz made his way back to the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays. It was his first start in nearly two years. Here is a look at how he did and what you can expect going forward.
Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers
Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Rays kicked off the weekend facing the Texas Rangers in Globe Life Field for a three-game series Friday night. Shane Baz got called on the mound to start in his first game back since 2022. Prior to Friday, he had made just nine career starts in a Rays' uniform.

Ultamitely, the Rays fell to the Texas Rangers 3-0 in a game that brings them back to .500, but Baz provided some impressive stuff in his 2024 debut that is noteworthy to dive into.

He went 6.0 innings, tossing six strikeouts over that stretch. He also walked only one batter, forcing the Texas lineup to beat him by putting the ball in play. This led to the unfortunate part of his start, where the Rangers hitting got to him with some runs by way of Corey Seager and Nate Lowe. In fact, Texas tallied seven hits on Baz throughout his start.

What Shane Baz must work on for Tampa Bay Rays

However, the Rays offense did not necessarily give Baz any kind of run support by getting shutout. They failed to take advantage of the eight walks they had by only having three hits, and left 10 runners in scoring position, not getting a single one home.

There were good takeaways to Baz's start. By no means was it guaranteed that he would be magnificent in his first start since July 10 in 2022 against the Cincinnati Reds. There certainly is some rust that he is working to get out of his game. His velocity was a good sign Friday, as he touched 99 miles per hour on some of his fastballs, and his sliders were reaching the high 80s on a consistent basis.

He also managed to toss more strikes than balls, as he got his pitches in the zone around 55% of the time in his 92 total pitches.

If anything, the purpose of the recent Aaron Civale trade was to clear room for Baz and more starters coming behind him. He will be a figurehead in this rotation that is only going to get more help with arms like Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen coming back later on into the season. He had the stuff tonight to keep the Rays pitching on track to rack up wins while chasing down a Wild Card spot.

Baz's next projected start is next Thursday in Tropicana Field against the New York Yankees.