Tampa Bay Rays: Grading Each Player's First Half

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Jason Adam
Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Bullpen: B+

Jason Adam, A+
Brooks Raley, A+
J.P. Feyereisen, A+
Jalen Beeks, A-
Shawn Armstrong, B+
Colin Poche, B+
Matt Wisler, B-
Ryan Thompson, C

The Rays have a reputation for acquiring pitchers and turning them from afterthoughts to key relievers, and this season has been no different.

Jason Adam and Brooks Raley have been the best that this year's edition of the bullpen has had to offer, and given the team's track record, it's no surprise that reclamation projects from the Cubs and Astros respectively have ended up leading the relief corps. Adam (1.41 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 46 K, 4 SV, 38.1 IP) and Raley (2.79 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 40 K, 6 SV, 29 IP) have taken over much of the high-leverage duty with former closer Andrew Kittredge out with Tommy John surgery.

J.P. Feyereisen was handling a lot of that as well early on, but he's still not throwing as a result of a shoulder injury that put him on the 60-day IL. He hasn't seen, and won't see, action for a while but 24 innings pitched is a substantial enough amount for half a season that he qualifies for a grade, and an A+ at that since he hadn't allowed a run all season before he went down.

Shawn Armstrong might be the most Rays-y acquisition of them all. After being picked up mid-season by the Rays off waivers in 2021, he was DFA'd in early September and picked up by the Marlins. He started off 2022 quite poorly for Miami, who outrighted him to AAA, causing him to elect free agency.

The Rays then re-acquired him for nothing, and since coming up to the big-league roster on May 31, he has pitched 19.2 innings with a 3.20 ERA and over a strikeout per inning, which is outstanding compared to the 10.80 ERA he had through 7 appearances with Miami.

The other two pitchers who have been tag-teaming late-inning responsibilities are Colin Poche and Matt Wisler. Poche and his famous wipeout slider are finally back from an elbow injury that sidelined him starting after his rookie season in 2019, and the early returns are encouraging. He has 6 saves and a 2.35 ERA, but he has given up a concerning amount of home runs, leading to a FIP of closer to 5.00.

However, he's still limiting quality contact overall as evidenced by his xERA of 2.99, so with some increased command and control, he should have a better second half. Wisler, known for only throwing a slider, is effective when he's on but his cold stretches are extremely ugly, so he has fallen out of favor with some fans this year. He does a great job generating harmless contact, which mostly explains his 2.36 ERA, but his predictability has led to poor strikeout and walk rates, indicating that he might not be performing as well as that ERA would say.