Tampa Bay Bay RaysOur expert from ScoutPRO.com,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.
Tampa Bay Bay Rays Team Projection
Below is my fantasy baseball breakdown of the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitchers and bullpen. In addition to my analysis of each pitcher, I have also included some of their stats from the past 2 seasons. The Rays pitching staff was strong last year, finishing 1st in the AL East in ERA (3.74) and 5th overall in the AL. WithDavid Price
1. SP David Price
Price gave fantasy owners a scare over his first 9 starts last year. He gave up 32 runs in 55 innings (5.24 ERA), and also developed a triceps strain in mid May that forced him to miss 6 weeks. After 6 starts in July, he had his ERA (3.57) back in a respectable area. Over his last 18 starts of the year, he allowed 2 runs or less 14 times. His walk rate (1.3) was a career best by more than 1 full walk, but his K rate (7.3) regressed. Price lost 2 mph off of his fastball. His lack of velocity led to him relying on his secondary pitches more, however, his changeup appeared to make a step forward. He threw it a career high 16.8% of the time. For the year, David dominated LH batters (.189). Price threw a career high 68% first pitch strikes. This is a dominating number, especially if he can repeat it in 2014 with increased velocity. The triceps injury paired with the drop in velocity scares me, but the development of his command and his changeup are encouraging for 2014. He has sub 2.50 ERA upside with a chance at a career high in K's. He'll be a free agent after the season, so his home in 2014 could change at any moment. Poised for a huge contract if he can make it through this season healthy.
2. SP Matt Moore
The average fantasy player is going to look at Moore's 2013 stats and believe he made a huge step forward. His ERA (3.29) improved, but his command (4.5) and K rate (8.6) declined. He allowed the most wild pitches (17) in the league. His first pitch strikes % (51) was in Jimenez or Liriano disaster area. Last year, Tampa scored 6 runs or more 12 times during his starts. He was 16 -1 when the Rays scored 3 runs or more. In his 17 wins, Moore had a 1.67 ERA and only allowed 60 hits in 107.7 innings (.157 BAA). Overall, he dominated both sides of the plate (LH - .222 and RH - .213). His command is still weaker against LH batters. Moore missed six weeks last season with a sore elbow. His AFB (92.4) was 2 mph lower than 2012. Matt throws a curveball and changeup a high % of the time. Moore allowed 19 runs and 38 base runners in 12.2 innings over a 3 game stretch in early June. Without those 3 games in his stat line, he had a 2.35 ERA and 1.14 whip. His lack of success in those starts suggests his elbow may have been bothering him in June. Overall, Moore allowed 2 runs or less 17 times in 27 starts. Matt has an upside arm that could be electric if his command could make a huge step forward. The elbow issue is a concern for sure and he had poor command when he returned in September (20 walks in 28 innings). There hasn't been any negative reports during the offseason, so he should be 100% healthy for spring training. Moore isn't ready to be a fantasy ace due to his poor command, but he has enough talent to be an upside SP2 with some WHIP risk.
3. SP Alex Cobb
It's too bad Cobb caught a bad break when he was hit by a line drive in mid June. The injury forced him to miss 2 months of the season. Alex only had 1 bad start all season (6 runs on June 10th). He had a 3.01 ERA with 6 wins prior to his concussion and was even better when he returned in mid August (5 wins and 2.41 ERA). Cobb had 3 starts last year with 10+ K's (2 in September). His K rate (8.4) was a career high and it has improved in each of his last 2 seasons. His command (2.8) is in a good area, but it took a slight step backwards. Cobb is an extreme GB pitcher (55.8%). His HR/FB rate (14.8%) is rising, but his low FB rate (22.5%) should keep the long balls to a minimum. His best pitch is a changeup, which he throws 33% of the time. His AFB (91.0) was slightly higher than 2012. Cobb only threw his fastball 43.4% of the time (one of the lowest totals in the majors). He also has a very good curveball. His LOB % (81.4%) was well above the league average, so his ERA was probably lower than it should have been. Cobb is 25-14 in his short major league career. He is a pitcher that has improved at the major league level. His ERA in 2014 will fall somewhere near the midpoint of the last 2 seasons with 15 win upside if Tampa's offense improves.
4. SP Chris Archer
These types of pitchers tend to aggravate me (maybe I'm just a fantasy snob). In his 35 starts at AAA over 2012 and 2013, Archer had a 3.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. With this resume, it would be tough to expect him to pitch better in the majors than AAA. Somehow Tampa's coaching staff worked their magic on him and Chris had his best command (2.7) of any season at any level in professional ball (5.0 in his minor league career). His K rate (7.1) was a step back from his minor league resume (9.0). Archer has an elite fastball (95.0). He threw his slider 33% of the time followed by a show me changeup. Chris dominated RH batters (.176 and .218 SLG %), but he needs to find a pitch to have more success against lefties (13 HR's in 280 at bats - .476 SLG %). Archer will be on a lot of fantasy players radar after his step forward in 2013, but I fear that his poor command may rear its ugly head in 2014. Downside risk.
5. SP Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi allowed 3 runs or less in 3 of his 4 starts in the majors last year. His command (2.4) was slightly better than his minor league resume (2.7), but his K rate (6.7) was a big step back from his minor league career (9.1). Odorizzi had 40 starts at AAA over the past 2 seasons (20-9 with a 3.15 ERA). His fastball was 90.8 in the majors last year. He throws a slider and changeup about the same % of time, plus a curveball. Odorizzi is ready to pitch in the big leagues, but he may need some time to develop. His minor league resume is stronger than Archer's and he has better command.?The Hellickson injury should open up a window for Odorizzi to be Tampa's 5th starter to start the year.
6. SP Jeremy Hellickson
Last year was the first year I took Mr. Hellickson for a ride. Unfortunately, he had more suck in him than my Electrolux vacuum. Jeremy had 9 starts where he allowed more than 5 runs (29% disaster rate). He allowed a HR in 10 of his first 11 starts (12 total HR's). After his first 14 starts, he had a 5.67 ERA. Despite his regression, his command (2.6) and K rate (7.0) improved for the 2nd straight year. Hellickson allowed 15 of his 24 HR's to LH batters. Overall, his first half of the season (4.67 ERA with 2.0 BB rate and 7.4 K rate) ended up being much stronger than his 2nd half (6.23 ERA with 3.8 BB rate and 6.1 K rate). Last year, he stopped throwing a cutter (7% in 2012). His AFB (90.5) was almost a full MPH lower than last season. His changeup is his best pitch and he also throws a curveball. His LOB % (66.2) was below the league average by about 10%. During his first 3 seasons, his LOB % was over 80% in each season (league average is 72%). In his first 2 seasons, he was tough to hit with poor command. Jeremy found his command last year, but he was easier to hit. Hellickson has a respectable major league resume and his underlying skills did improve. Maybe he just lost some of his confidence. I expect him to rebound this year and his K rate may take a step forward.?Update: Hellickson needed to have surgery on his right elbow in early February to have bone chips removed. His recovery time will cost him about 6 to 8 weeks of the regular season. This explains why his stuff had less value in 2013.
7. SP Erik Bedard
Tampa added Bedard for starting pitching depth after the Hellickson injury. Over the last 2 seasons, Erik has had a 4.78 ERA over 50 starts. His K rate (8.2) was his lowest since 2006, while his walk rate (4.5) was his worst since 2004. Bedard had success against RH batters (.244), but he allowed 58 walks in 438 at bats. Furthermore, he had no value against lefties (.309) and his AFB (89.3) was a career low. His #2 pitch is a curveball, followed closely by a cutter that has gained value over the last 2 years and a decent changeup. He has low upside, but he does have K ability if the Rays can somehow figure out the keys to making him throw more strikes.
8. SP Nate Karns
Tampa added Karns in a minor deal with Washington in February for more starting pitching depth. Last year, he was drilled in his 3 starts in the majors (7.50 ERA) with 5 HR's allowed in 12 innings. He is 24-12 during his minor league career with a 2.66 ERA and 362 K's in 304 innings. Nate is an older arm that has pitched against younger players during his minor league career. He has a solid fastball (93.4), and his #2 pitch is a curveball followed by a changeup. Low upside pitcher with good minor league stats, but he has never pitched at AAA.
9. CL Grant Balfour
After being shot down by the Orioles earlier in the offseason, Balfour was able to land a 2-year, $12 million contract with Tampa. He will take over as closer. Grant converted 38 of his 41 save chances last season. Furthermore, he handled himself well against both RH (.222) and LH (.192) batters. Balfour did fade after the All Star break (4.13 ERA - 5.3 walk rate), but his AFB (93.4) was his highest since 2008. His slider also had its most value during his career. Grant also throws a show me curveball. Overall, his command (3.9) has regressed over the last 3 seasons, while his K rate (10.3) was his highest since 2008. He makes sense as a closer for Tampa for fantasy owners, but his skill set isn't ideal. There are signs of risk and downside. His low first strike % (55) isn't a great sign for a pitcher in the 9th inning. I believe he is a closer to avoid in 2014.
10. RP Heath Bell
Bell has really struggled in his last 2 seasons and has delivered no value on his 3 year, $27 million contract. This year, Miami will pay $4 million and Arizona will pay $500,000 of his $9 million contract. Last year, he took over the closer job for the Diamondbacks on May 7th. Heath converted 11 of 12 chances before blowing up in 5 straight games in June (5 HR's allowed in 4 innings - 13 total base runners), which led to him losing the job in early July. Bell struggled with RH batters (.296 and 9 HR's allowed in 159 at bats). However, his command (2.2) was a career best and he had a plus K rate (9.9). He pitched well after the All Star break (3.56 ERA) with better command (1.5,? and Heath did a better job of keeping the ball in the ball park. His AFB (93.2) has declined over his last 2 seasons, and his only other pitch is a curveball. His LOB % (82.7 was very high, so he could have easily had an ERA over 5.00).? Tampa has done a great job of reviving closers careers over the past few years (Farnsworth, Soriano, and Rodney), so Bell may end up delivering a solid season. His HR rate (1.6) was a career high, but he did a pretty good job of limited HR's in the previous 6 seasons. The move to the AL may hurt him. While he has three 40 saves seasons on his resume, Bell will enter 2014 as a closer in waiting.
11. RP Jake McGee
After a nice step forward in 2012, McGee was creamed over the first 2 months of 2013 (15 runs in 20.3 innings - 6.64 ERA). His K rate (12.9) was elite during that stretch, but he walked too many batters (9) and allowed too many HR's (4). Jake was electric over the next 3 months (2.27 ERA with 39 K's in 31.7 innings). McGee's K rate (7.6) and walk rate (3.4) faded in September. He has an elite fastball (96.3 - career high), but threw it 93% of the time. Last year, the only other pitch he threw was a cutter. In 2012, he threw a slider and a changeup. Last year, he had equal success against RH (.217) and LH (.235) batters. In 2012, righties couldn't touch him (.098 - 2 extra base hits in 111 at bats). His command made a step forward in 2012 (1.8), but it regressed last year (.32). He has a plus fastball and is dominant against RH batters, so he may be ready to take over in the 9th inning. Joe Madden has favored a player with closing experience over the past couple of years. Upside arm, but I'd like him to develop a 2nd pitch.
12. RP Joel Peralta
This guy continues to amaze me. He didn't reach the majors until age 29. Joel had an ERA of 4.61 over his first 5 seasons. At age 34, he had a breakthrough season with the Nationals (2.02 ERA). Over the past 4 years, he has a 3.07 ERA and 0.973 WHIP. Last year, batters only hit .184 against him, but he did take a huge step back in command (4.3 - 1.7, 2.4, and 2.3 in the previous 3 seasons). Peralta only throw his fastball (90.2) 41.8% of the time as he relies on an improving split-finger fastball and curveball. Last year, he blew up in September (5.40 ERA with 10 walks in 13.3 innings). Peralta may have a better skill set than Bell, but he only has 9 career saves. Joel has appeared in plus games over the past 2 seasons, so he may have some after affects this season. Dark horse for saves, but he'll need to regain his walk rate.