Tigers 14, Devil Rays 2.

Starting pitching can carry a team — or weigh it down.

The Devil Rays are experiencing the latter, as three of the team’s five starting pitchers have been as inconsistent as their ERAs are high.

Those are the first two sentences from Bill Chastain’s write-up of last night’s game at devilrays.com. Let’s see how “inconsistent” they have been…

We have never liked the “quality start” stat in baseball (6 innings, allowing no more than 3 runs). Since when is 6 innings and 3 runs a “quality start”? In our eyes a quality start is 7 innings. A starting pitcher should at least be able to get the ball to the team’s set-up man. But for the sake of argument let’s see how many quality starts Edwin Jackson, Jae Seo and Casey Fossum have on the season.

Pitcher GS QS
Jae Seo 10 2
Casey Fossum 9 3
Edwin Jackson 9 2
Of the 7 “quality starts” that these pitchers have racked up, 4 of them have been of the 6-inning variety. Both of Jackson’s “quality starts” just barely qualified at 6 innings with 3 runs. On the season, these 3 pitchers have worked more than 6 innings a total of 5 times in 28 starts. For comparison (this really isn’t fair, but too bad) James Shields has worked into the 7th inning in every one of his 10 starts and has 7 quality starts all by himself.

So, we are a little confused. What exactly is “inconsistent” in their performance this season? Rather, these three pitchers have been amazingly consistent. Consistently bad. How many times has a game ended this season and Rays fans thought that one of these guys actually pitched well? Even a below-average pitcher should have a few of those by now. We can think of 1 for Seo and maybe 2 for Fossum. That is 3 solid outings in 28 starts. Josh Paul could do that. Hell, Joe Maddon could do that.

Never fear, change is on the horizon. Seo is now out of the rotation. And don’t buy into the statement that Joe Maddon made this week concerning Seo’s status.

He may go back and do his next start, but we’re not sure yet.

That is just Papa Joe not wanting to make an official statement yet. Seo is out. Fossum is next.

So who will the Rays bring up to replace Seo and Fossum? We could actually make a case for all 5 of the Durham starting pitchers.

  1. Andy Sonnanstine. Last week we stated that Sonny was not likely to get the first call because he is not on the 40-man roster, but we have loosened on that position. It would not surprise us now if Seo is released. It might depend on whether the Rays think they can actually trade Seo and receive anything of value. Sonnanstine has been the most consistent of the 5, with only one bad outing all year. He has been a little more hittable his last two outings.
  2. Jeff Niemann. Niemann has been consistently good this year, but he is yet to be great. He has not had that one start or stretch of starts that make you say “wow”. He consistently goes 5-6 innings and gives up 2-3 runs. He does have 57 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. This is the guy the Rays want in the rotation, but he may need another 5-10 starts at AAA.
  3. Jason Hammel. Hammel has been named pitcher-of-the-week twice this season, but both of those came early in the season. He has been a bit more average for the last month until his last start when he threw a 5-hit shutout with no walks. Hammel also has major league experience and almost a complete year of AAA under his belt. That could give him the edge over the others.
  4. Mitch Talbot. Want the hot-hand? Talbot is your guy. After struggling all season, he may have turned it around with only 6 hits and 1 run in his last 14 innings covering 2 starts. Still, the Rays will want to see a bit more consistency before Talbot gets a call.
  5. JP Howell. Howell is the forgotten guy. Remember he pitched great in the spring and battled Jackson to the last week for the 5th spot. He also has the most major league experience in the group. He has been great his last 3 outings with 2 runs and 7 hits with 18 strike outs in 18 innings.

If the Rays are willing to make a roster move and drop somebody from the 40-man, Sonnanstine is the guy. He has earned it. If they decide to wait on a roster move hoping to make a trade involving Seo (or Cantu or Gomes) then the first call will probably be Hammel or Howell.

Anything would be an improvement of what the Rays throw out there 60% of the time.


  • We have a lot of loyal readers around these parts, but Rob Neyer of ESPN.com is apparently not one of them.

In addition to [Edwin] Jackson‘s 7.12, the rotation also features Casey Fossum’s 7.15 and Jae Seo’s 8.10. And somehow nobody’s talking seriously about junking either of them.

Apparently Rob missed THIS post, or THIS one, and he definitely missed THIS one. In our defense. That last post? Jae Seo killed our cat the night before*

* might not be true.

  • The Devil Rays have had discussions with the Mets concerning how they handled Jose Reyes and the recurring hamstring problems that plagued him early in his career. The Rays hope the same techniques can be used with Rocco Baldelli in an effort to reduce the problems he has encountered with his hamstrings. Mets personnel were able to alter the way that Reyes ran and he no longer has a recurring hamstring issues. Rocco is hoping to begin a rehab assignment, possibly in extended spring training with the next 10-14 days.
  • Jane Heller of the New York Times is divorcing the New York Yankees and is having an affair with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Isn’t that kinda like divorcing Bill Gates to date the pool boy? I mean the pool boy may be more fun to watch, but you aren’t going nice places with him anytime soon.
  • A judge has issued a 1-year restraining order against Elijah Dukes. Dukes must also undergo a psychological evaluation before he is allowed to see his children.


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