Al Reyes is 5 years older and has 4 years more experience than any other member of the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After a second Tommy John surgery and missing most of 2006, nobody knew what to expect from King Reyes in 2007. So far his performance has been better than even the most optimistic Rays homer could have expected. In 2007 the King already has more saves in April (9), than he had in his entire career entering 2007 (6).
Bill Chastain describes his calm demeanor on the mound. We are not sure he is calm, but we would say he is under control. In fact, as the season progresses we are starting to see more and more emotion from Reyes when he takes the mound. Nothing big…But you can see it in the intensity in his face and the subtle gestures after striking out a batter. He is pitching with the utmost confidence right now which is an absolute requirement to be an effective closer. Next time he takes the mound see how quickly he is ready to throw the next pitch after getting the ball back from the catcher. That is a sign a pitcher is pitching with confidence. Watch what happens when a batter calls time with Reyes on the mound. He leans back and looks away in subtle little sign of anger, but never steps off. He is ready to throw.
Even though he rarely tops 90 mph, the look on his face indicates that he knows nobody can touch him right now. Hopefully that is something that is not lost on the rest of the Devil Rays pitching staff. Life is easier for a pitcher if he throws in the upper 90s, but major league hitters can hit a good fastball if it is in a bad spot. Being a successful pitcher is about hitting spots and changing speeds. It is why a pitcher like Greg Maddux continues to win games even though he only throws in the mid-80s. He doesn’t have a nasty slider or a big 12-6 hook or a split-finger. He throws strikes, hits his spots and changes speeds. King Reyes knows this and it has been impressive.
- Al Reyes is one of the top 10 surprises of the first month in the AL.
- It is amazing to see how many people are jumping back on the BJ Upton bandwagon. Two months ago, all anybody read was that he would be lucky if he was ever a serviceable major leaguer and that it could only happen if he was in the outfield.
- As for BJ Upton himself. He is scared. Why? Because he never hits well early in the season. Wow. This is going to be fun to watch. Then try imagining Upton with 10-15 extra pounds next season.
- Joe Maddon does not see a need to change the team’s pre-game routine, despite a number of games recently in which the Rays fell behind early. Papa Joe blames it on youth and believes the players will grow out of it.
- An in depth look at the first month of the Devil Rays season. In summary, it is too early to condemn this team. Brendan Harris is the player named as “who’s hot” and Edwin Jackson is the player named as “who’s not”. They probably could have thrown 8 pitchers names in a hat and picked one and they wouldn’t have been wrong on the second one.