Rays’ starting pitchers look to dominate

Peter Drulias, Staff Writer

Over the past five years now the Tampa Bay Rays have been considered by most a solid team who compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, who are both in the same division. The Rays are known for being a small ball team and not necessarily a great hitting club, but the anchor to the team for the last several years now has been their pitching. They were able to develop a great group of pitchers which helped them leap into the talk of the teams to beat. James Shields, the veteran of the group, who has been with the Rays for six years, was met by the all-star pitcher David Price, who created a name for himself in the ALCS in 2008. After the 2008 season, the Rays discovered what they needed to win games and it was great starting pitching. In the past two years the Rays were able to develop two more rookie pitchers. Jeremy Hellickson, a phenom in the minor leagues, made the starting rotation in the 2011 season and impressed everyone. Then the last spot and the fourth guy in the rotation belong to the rookie Matt Moore. Moore made a couple appearances from the bullpen in the 2011 regular season and playoffs and showed he had what it took to become a big time pitcher in the major leagues.

 

   The number spot belongs to David Price. The four year pitcher has been the definition of clutch ever since he came in to close out the Boston Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS, helping the team reach the playoffs. Price gradually made himself the best pitcher on the team due to his upper 90’s fastball and insane off speed pitches. Entering his fifth year in the MLB, he has racked up 520 strikeouts and has posted a 41-26 win-loss record and a 3.38 ERA, which is solid for a MLB pitcher. As of now, Price is the cornerstone for the team and is expected to compete with the opposing teams’ best pitcher.

  Then there is the number two spot in the rotation, and it goes to the veteran, James Shields. Being the oldest of the four pitchers on the team, he is considered to most Tampa Bay’s ace. Shields, who has been shaky from time to time, had a great year last year with a 16-12 record and an ERA of 2.82. The only question with Shields is if he will be consistent enough to maintain those numbers. Working with a great changeup, he is a crafty pitcher and often keeps hitters off balance. This year is a big year for Shields and he still has to prove that he is consistent enough to keep pitching in a rotation like the Rays.

 

  Jeremy Hellickson, who ranks in at the third spot, was a rookie last year and surprised all, somehow squeezing his way into the rotation, mostly for the reason being he was a stud in the minor leagues, winning more than 75% of his games pitched. Much like Shields, he does not try to overpower hitters but carves the strike zone and throws strikes. Last year being his rookie year he made a name for himself, not only winning thirteen games but also winning the title of AL Rookie of the Year. Much is expected out of Hellickson if the Rays want to continue their success.

 

   The most recent addition to the Rays’ starting rotation and filling in the last spot is upcoming rookie Matt Moore. Moore, who is a lefty pitcher, has the same mold as Price, big and likes to throw hard. Even though out of the bullpen last year he was able to make quick work of the hitters he faced, there are still a lot of unknowns. This being said Joe Madden, the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays is willing to take a chance with the 22-year-old Matt Moore and see how he handles starting games in the MLB

 

   The starting rotation for the Rays this spring training is considered to be one of the best starting pitching rotations in the league. The Rays, who seem like hoarders, are just playing it smart and want to make sure their pitching is not the problem. Some suggest they trade away someone like Wade Davis or Jeff Neimann for some bats to fill in the holes in the lineup, but Maddon and the organization have made it clear that they do not want to give up what they have and think they have a good shot in winning it all in the upcoming season.