Tampa Bay Rays: 3 players who need to step up in Jeffrey Springs' absence

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays
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Josh Fleming

Fleming is another guy who has been extremely versatile for the Rays since he broke into the league back in 2020. A left-handed pitcher, Fleming had a solid 32 inning-showing that year and had a 2.78 ERA with a 148 ERA+, emerging as a potential building block arm for the club.

Instead, he has regressed rather heavily for this team. In 2021, he had a 5.09 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 26 games, losing touch on his strikeout ability (5.6 SO/9 compared to 7.0 the year before) and allowing walks at a more frequent rate (2.7 BB/9 compared to 1.9 in 2020).

A common theme for Fleming's big league career has been him not necessarily taking full advantage of the opportunities he's given. Ever since that strong 2020 showing, he's been well below-league average and has been a shell of the pitcher he was just a few years ago.

Fleming is another guy who has filled every role the Rays have needed over the years, even if the results haven't quite been there. He's been a starter, he's been an opener, he's been a follower, he's even earned a save, you name it. However, he will need to turn things around and step up now that one of his teammates on the pitching staff has gone down.

To begin the current season, the 26-year-old has three appearances and 10.1 innings under his belt. In that time, he's allowed seven earned runs on 14 hits and walked five batters. He relies heavily on inducing groundball outs - a trait the Rays have been known to love over the years - but needs to get a handle on his control and limit baserunners at a more efficient rate if he is to stick around.