Re: Moore, Price and a solid defense could make Tampa a favorite in the East and in the playoffs
posted at 7/26/2013 1:47 PM EDT
In response to moonslav59's comment:
All teams have "holes". The question is, do the Rays have more or less "holes" than the Sox and other contending teams, and if they have more, do they make it up in other areas with superb players.
In response to slomag's comment:
I'm not convinced about the Rays - they are better offensively with Myers and a healthy Longoria, but they still have plenty of holes. And their rotation is not as good as it was in previous years - Moore is for real, and Price is great when he's healthy, but he's started to show some wear on his arm this year. Cobb, Hernandez & Archer aren't all that great, and Hellickson has been hit or miss, and many of the misses have come against AL East opponents - you have to think a change-up artist suffers a bit with familiarity.
The key is going to be to keep them from winning the division - make them burn one Price or Moore start in the wild card playoff.
The Rays are very dependent on health, especially for Longoria and Price, but they have suffered some injuries this year and still hung tough. Luke Scott is back (.835 OPS), Wil Myers is here to stay (.847 OPS). Those are two players the Rays have not had all year. Those two provide a huge boost to what they had in their stead. The Rays now have 6 guys with an OPS over .775:
.790 K Johnson
.775 D Jennings
Then, there is Zobrist (.745) and Joyce (.752) who give some potential for more of a boost over the final 2 months of the season. Their 2 weak offensive positions are SS (Escobar .668) and Catcher (Molina .609/Lobaton .697). They have Ryan Roberts (.688) and Sean Rodriguez (.698) on the bench.
The pitching staff surely took a big hit when they lost Shields and Davis in the Myers deal, and then they lost Niemann to injury. What's amazing to me, is that despite these losses, Price (5-5 3.75) and Hellickson (9-3 4.62) have not "picked up the slack" at all. The real boost has come from Moore (14-3 3.17), Alex Cobb (6-2 3.01) and Chris Archer (5-3 2.76).
Team record in starts by...
9-4 A Cobb
7-3 C Archer
Maybe the Moore record is not so surprising, but 16-7 from your 6 and 7th starter combined is stunning. (Assuming Niemann and R Hernandez were the 4 and 5 slots)
The pen has been in turmoil and changeover for years. Farnsworth was a big factor in their success in recent years, but has only pitched 27 innings this year (5.33 ERA and 1.48 WHIP). The pen has 11 blown saves and a 27% inherited runners scoring percent.
Rodney has improved, but his 4.40 ERA and 1.42 WHIP is terrible as a closer.
Jake McGee is at 4.46/1.122 (38 IP)
C Ramos 4.20/1.352 (41)
J Wright 2.82/1.105 (44)
J Peralta 3.07/1.045 (44)
A Torres 0.30/0.63 (30)
.775 OPS is not an elite number - it's slightly above average - Salty has a .771 OPS, and if they wanted to, the Sox could field a lineup where that was the lowest, second only to Drew's .704. Loney has an .824 OPS like Iglesias is hitting .350. He had a great 2 months to start the season, but given the last 6 weeks, and his career numbers, it's hard to say he's a strength in the lineup. Given his position, I'm more inclined to list him as a liability.
Archer and Torres are good examples why I'm skeptical about the Rays - how do guys who get knocked around at AAA come up and dominate major-league hitters? And how long can it last?