The Tampa Bay Rays have a few significant problems to deal with in the coming months, due to the fact that they are in last place in the AL East and have lost two of their starting pitchers to injury already. These blows to the rotation are already problematic enough, given the fact that this is a team built around its pitching. Unfortunately for the Rays, their ace David Price so far has not played up to his potential. Price was expected to be the leader of a dominant starting rotation, and is now having a mediocre season while the Rays have fallen to 25th in overall rotation ERA.
Price has pitched in six games this season, and although he has had a couple of quality starts, he has not been the pitcher that the Rays were expecting on opening day of the season. He is 3-2 with a 4.75 ERA so far, and has surrendered 7 home runs over the course of the season.
The most concerning part of these subpar statistics is the fact that Price is already coming off of a mediocre season in 2013. Due to a disabled list stint that lasted from mid-May through early July, Price managed just 27 starts, posting a record of 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA. He had his lowest numbers in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts since 2009, which was his first season in the Rays’ starting rotation. His ERA was also considerably higher than the 2.56 he posted in the previous season, and the 2.72 he posted in his Cy Young season.
The Rays are now put in a difficult situation with Price and what to do with him. The Rays signed him to a $14 million deal in January, which was the team’s highest single season contract in history. Most people expected the Rays to trade Price, given the fact that the Rays are known as one of the MLB’s lowest budget teams. Price, however, made it to Opening Day without being dealt, which many saw as a sign that the Rays had made the decision go with a win-now attitude. The Rays’ strong rotation and bullpen looked like a combination that could propel them into the postseason, and give them a serious chance at winning it all.
The Rays are now in a very different situation than they hoped that they would be while planning in the offseason. In addition to Matt Moore being out for the season, Alex Cobb was put on the 15-day DL earlier this month, leaving the struggling Price with a lot of pressure to perform at his best.
At some point in the next few months, the Rays’ upper management is going to have to make a very difficult decision. If the team is looking like they have no shot of a playoff run as we get closer to the trade deadline, it is very possible that Price will be traded to a contender that is looking for help reaching the playoffs. In exchange, the Rays will hopefully get some young talent to help improve the team in the future. The other possible scenario would be that things start to turn around for the Rays, and it becomes clear that they have the possibility of making the playoffs. This could certainly happen if Price starts pitching like the ace that we are used to, and if Alex Cobb returns to full form after his stint on the disabled list.
It is only a month into the regular season, and there is still a lot of baseball to be played before any team goes into panic mode. The Rays certainly have some wounds to deal with, but there is still a lot that can be done to help this team start to win.
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