Five man rotation to start the season!
It was all but official, Chris Archer would start Opening Day for the Rays. At most, the Rays rotation became one of those water cooler debates that you had with a co-worker. You know, the one where that casual sports fan tries to convince you that Archer doesn’t deserve the nod because he lost 19 games in 2016.
We all know that guy. Don’t be that guy!
On Thursday, the Rays made it official. Archer will headline the rotation and start opposite Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka on opening day. The team also announced the rest of the rotation. Jake Odorizzi will start on Tuesday followed by Alex Cobb, Blake Snell, and Matt Andriese.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 23, 2017
Cobb still has some things to prove before he is viewed as a No. 1 starter again. He did not look good in his return from Tommy John surgery last season. Over five starts, Cobb surrendered 21 earned runs in 22 innings pitched.
Odorizzi hopes to reach the 200 inning mark for the first time in his career. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him reach a career high (11) in wins this year as well.
Prospect lovers are excited to see a full season of Blake Snell. Posting a 1.41 ERA through three levels of minor league ball in 2015, Snell caught the eye of the baseball world. The Rays are hopeful that his 19 big league starts in 2016 will prove beneficial as he enters his age-23 season.
The fifth spot in the rotation was really the only one open for water cooler conversation. Could the Rays have given the ball to Jose De Leon, the top-prospect acquired from the Dodgers?
Sure, they could have.
De Leon struggled for the Dodgers when brought up late last season. Plus, the Rays are known for giving newly acquired prospects time in the minors before making their Rays debut. Just ask Jake Odorizzi. Many fans did not like the trade that sent Logan Forsythe to LA, but it made sense to obtain controllable young talent.
Andriese is a safe, solid play for this team. The key for the Rays will be whether or not Andriese can build on his second-half improvement. Yes, he posted a 2-6 record with a 5.53 ERA after the all-star break but he showed significant development.
His K/9 rate went from 7.3 to 9.0 and his K/BB rate went from 3.2 to an astonishing 7.6. To put that in perspective, Red Sox Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello led the league with a 5.9 K/BB rate.
Don’t expect Andriese to strike out seven and walk one every time he takes the hill. But, if he has command of his pitches like he did for those ten weeks last season, he could be a pleasant surprise for the Rays this year.
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