AL East Roundup: 2015 BSI Preview

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Apr 1, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher

Grant Balfour

(50) throws a warm up pitch against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays

Predicted Ranking: 5th Place

Spring Training Record: 15 wins, 13 losses, 2 ties


  • Five pitchers are out of action: Alex Cobb, Alexander Colome, Jake McGee, Matt Moore, and Drew Smyly. That makes three of their possible six starters out of the rotation to start the season.
  • Cobb is healing from right forearm tendinitis, Smyly is the same but with the left shoulder, and Alexander is recovering from pneumonia, which all men are expected to be available in April.
  • Moore and McGee will be out more extensively. Moore is coming back in June, after last April’s Tommy John surgery. McGee will be back in May, after left elbow surgery last December.
  • Shortstop Nick Franklin has a left oblique strain, which will make him unavailable for a few games to start the season. But, as he is third in the depth chart at the position, the Rays will not be desperate for his return, yet.

Starting Pitchers:

  • Rotation – Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Nathan Karns, Matt Moore
  • As there are six pitchers named in the starting rotation, with three previously mentioned with severe injuries, this list seems more like the Rays desperately throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks to it. On paper, the staff could have decent results; however, nobody will know just how effective any of them will be until they throw against major league talent in the regular season. This key issue is likely the reason why many experts have them finishing last in the division.


  • Declared Closer – Grant Balfour
  • Middle Relievers – Brad Boxberger, Jeff Beliveau, Jake McGee, Kirby Yates, Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen, Steve Geltz, Matt Andriese, and Erasmo Ramirez
  • Anyone afraid of any of these pitchers not named Balfour? Many of these names are not well-known to the average baseball fan or even the experts. They will have a lot to prove, especially with a starting rotation recovering from injuries, which will mean the bullpen will be carted out, regularly, to put out the fires. Where’s Joe Madden when you need him? Too soon?

Position Players:

  •  C – Rene Rivera, 1st Base – James Loney, 2nd Base – Logan Forsythe, 3rd Base – Evan Longoria, ShortStop – Asdrubal Cabrera, Left Field – Desmond Jennings, Center Field – Kevin Kiermaier, Right Field – Steven Souza, DH – John Jaso
  • An All-Star who is surrounded by many discarded players from other teams. That doesn’t bode well for the Rays’ chances at scoring runs, this season. While Longoria led the Rays in RBIs with 91, Loney was the next best with 69 RBIs. The next highest total, for a player still on the team, was Jennings with 36 RBIs.
  • Jaso came over from the Oakland Athletics, potentially to be used as a catcher or first baseman. He is swinging the bat as the designated hitter, at the moment. As he hit 40 RBIs, last season, his numbers should help, but they will not make him the savior of the franchise’s run production.

Player To Watch in 2015:

  • Oh. My. Goodness. Talk about a franchise that lost a ton of assets. Fan-favorites like Ben Zobrist have left and were never replaced to nearly the same skill set that helped bring the Rays to the playoffs, in recent years. Should be watching for a Longoria-early-retirement party? Not because the seven-year veteran is anywhere near passed his prime, as he continues to produce, but because he may really want out of this debacle. The coach went to the Chicago Cubs, his teammates found money in other places, and it is now his job to help raise the new batch of Rays players, if he wants any chance at success in Tampa Bay. Instead of watching his statistics, we should be watching Longoria’s leadership skills, this season, to see if he can help or, at least, look like a leader set to move to another team, one day. Considering that he’s locked up until 2023 for another $105.5 million, expect an attempt at the former than the later happening any time soon.

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