To preview the series between the Florida rivals the Marlins and Rays, I had an email chat with David Hill, recently promoted co-editor of Rays Colored Glasses, the Fansided Rays site. Justin and his staff do a wonderful job also of covering everything Tampa-related, from the latest news to full-analysis on just about everything.
David and I chatted about everything from the latest injury update to Tampa ace David Price to when top prospect Wil Meyers will receive a callup to the majors
Without any further ado, here is my chat with David:
Ehsan Kassim: What’s the latest on David Price’s injury? How soon will he be back? How does it affect his chances of being traded?
David Hill: As of right now, they don’t have a timetable for his return. Thus far, he’s been doing strengthening exercises and stated the that triceps is pain free, but they don’t have anything scheduled for rehab assignments or anything else right now. Hopefully, he can get out for a couple of rehab starts soon, but there hasn’t been any word of such. It’s also possible that a part of this is to get Price right mentally – he seemed to be putting a lot of pressure on himself at the start of the season, and that may have been part of the reason why he struggled before his injury.
Ehsan: When can we expect to see star prospect Will Meyers in the Majors?
David: Bringing up Myers is a matter of when the Rays feel that he is ready, and would be set up for the most success. He’s been struggling a bit in Durham, batting only .247/.335/.412 and has struck out 54 times in 170 at bats. Right now, he simply does not seem ready to be in the majors. Once he cuts down on the strikeouts, then the Rays would likely consider bringing him up.
Ehsan: What has been wrong with the Rays this season? What do they need to do to get back into contention?
David: The biggest issue for the Rays has been the bullpen. Typically a strength of the Rays, their bullpen has been a disaster this year. They have the second worst ERA in baseball, ahead of only the woeful Astros, and have the worst WHiP n the American League. It also does not help that Fernando Rodney has blown more saves than any other closer, and has the most walks of any reliever in baseball. If they manage to get the bullpen issues straightened out, and find a reliable reliever aside from Joel Peralta, it will go a long way towards helping them remain in contention.
Ehsan: How big of a surprise has James Loney been this season? Think the Rays take advantage of his hot play and use him as a chip on the trade block?
David: Loney was once a top prospect, compared to players such as Wally Joyner and Mark Grace when he was drafted. Unfortunately, he never was able to handle the pressure of markets such as Los Angeles or Boston. One of the biggest things that he mentioned about enjoying being in Tampa is the relaxed atmosphere. Even though not a lot was expected from Loney aside from playing great defense, it seems that all he needed was a change of scenery. The potential was there for him to be this type of player, but his performance this year has been really surprising.
If the Rays fall out of contention around the deadline, it’s possible they put him on the block. However, since he seems like he needs to avoid pressure situations/bigger media markets, there may not be much of a market for him. However, if he keeps hitting at the pace he is, those concerns would likely not be as big a red flag.
Ehsan: What are your thoughts on the new format for this series this season, with the teams essentiall splitting a four game series with two games in Tampa and two in Miami?
David: I think it’s a good idea. The two teams are close enough where it makes sense. In fact, this is something that I feel that baseball should look at doing more often in those cases. Teams like the Royals-Cardinals, Mets-Yankees and Oakland-San Francisco would also seem like natural choices for that type of series. It could be something that the MLB could exploit as a marketing plug.
Ehsan: Can you give us a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Marlins will face this series?
David: Odorizzi throws in the low 90’s, but can hit 95 at times. He features a basic fastball/curve/slider/changeup repertoire, but the fastball is his best pitch. It gets a little flat at times, particularly when he throws it harder, but that is what he tends to work off of. He made an adjustment in his first start and threw fewer fastballs after getting hit around a bit in the first two innings, so he may do the same thing Monday.
Hellickson actually had his best start of the season in his previous outing. He’s been able to get to two strikes but has had issues putting batters away, but in the last start he was attacking the zone more. The aggressiveness paid off, as he pitched a season best eight innings giving up only two hits. Hellickson had struggled before that outing, so this may mark a major shift in approach.
Roberto Hernandez has been the pitching version of The Good, The bad and The Ugly. He’s been shelled in his last two starts, giving up a total of ten runs in his last six innings. In fact, if Odorizzi can pitch well until the point that Price is ready to return, Hernandez may be sent to the bullpen. Wednesday may be a big start for him in terms of what happens to him when Price comes back.
Matt Moore has been the biggest reason why the Rays have been hovering around .500 this year, and may be the front runner for the AL Cy Young Award. Last year, when he would lose the strike zone, he had difficulty in regaining his control. This season, he has been able to make adjustments literally mid at-bat, which has helped him to harness his stuff. He has easily been the Rays best pitcher this year, and the argument could be made for his being the best pitcher in the American League thus far in 2013.
A big thank you to David for taking his timeout to talk to us. We at Marlin Maniac wish all Rays fans the best of luck in the upcoming series. If you get a chance, please check out Rays Colored Glasses for the questions I answered for David, including a question about Giancarlo Stanton’s future.