The Tampa Bay Rays, the favorites to advance to the ALCS over the Boston Red Sox, said goodbye to their World Series chances after dropping the series, 3-1.
It’s a highly disappointing outcome for the best team in the American League during the regular season.
Their vaunted pitching, the fifth-ranked in runs allowed per game with 4.0 and the fourth-best ERA in MLB with 3.67, couldn’t stop the likes of Kike Hernandez, Rafael Devers, Hunter Renfroe, Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, and other top hitters in the Red Sox lineup.
The Rays shut out the Red Sox in the first game, but in the following three, they allowed a whopping 26 runs, something rare for such a solid team.
This proves a lot of things: one, the playoffs often show some fluky stat lines and developments.
And two, the Rays could definitely use a true ace for the 2022 season.
Oh and that’s all fair.
But Cash is solid and he has grown into a real leader for the Rays.
I think some of this is on not having the expanded payroll to get some guys to help move others around, use more efficiently.
Pitchers are great but they need a proven ace in 2022.
— CHRIS TORELLO (@TorelloSports) October 12, 2021
They Have A Strong Pitching Core, But Need A Proven Difference-Maker
But a true ace in 2022 would take some of the pressure off the young guns and let them develop at their own pace.
McClanahan made 25 starts and performed really well, with a 3.43 ERA and striking out 27.3 percent of the hitters he faced.
Even a moderate step forward next season could result in a star-like performance.
Baz only has three regular season starts and one in the playoffs under his belt, so he needs time and patience, while Patino’s 4.31 ERA season means he still has some work to do.
Ryan Yarbrough 5.11 ERA also means the team should find an ace to guarantee top October performance next season.
To be fair, the Rays have such an arm on their roster: a pitcher who can go seven or eight innings and completely shut down a top lineup in any circumstance.
The problem is that pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, underwent Tommy John surgery on August 4 after blowing up his elbow while trying to alter his grip to improve his command after MLB banned the use of sticky stuff (known for helping pitchers control the ball better and, additionally, to increase spin rate in some cases).
then Glasnow says that to make up for not having the sticky stuff last outing he had to grip the ball harder and believes that contributed to his elbow injury
— Zach Feldman (@ZachFeldman3) June 15, 2021
Their Top Pitcher Is Injured
Glasnow was the Rays’ ace while he was healthy, with 14 spectacular starts in which he covered 88 innings of a 2.66 ERA, 123 strikeouts, and a 0.93 WHIP.
While he hasn’t proven he can translate his regular season effectiveness to October (6.56 ERA in 35.2 postseason innings), it’s too small a sample to draw significant conclusions.
Glasnow is the unquestioned team ace when healthy, but since he had Tommy John surgery in August, it’s highly unlikely he is ready to contribute next season.
That leaves the Rays hunting for an ace if they want to make a deep postseason run next year and take advantage of their wide open contention window.
By now, we know that the Rays won’t spend $20 million or more on a top free agent starter.
However, they do have lots and lots of trade pieces to swing a blockbuster move for a young, controllable star if they want.
Will they do it?
It’s too early to tell, and they may prefer to solve their issues internally.
But a true ace would dramatically improve their chances to reach the World Series next year.