Angels 3, Devil Rays 0.
Despite being “small” for a right-hander and despite not being blessed with a plus-fastball, Andy Sonnanstine breezed through the minors with amazing numbers. His status grew to almost legendary proportions among Devil Rays fans who had never even seen him pitch. For a team that always seems to be about 10 pitchers short of a major league pitching staff, Sonny was seen as savior to many.
We always understood the fascination with Andy Sonnanstine. We saw the numbers and we were in awe. His control was impeccable and despite not having a plus-fastball he had impressive strikeout totals. We always understood the fascination with Andy Sonnanstine but we were skeptical. A pitcher can fool minor league hitters, but that is much more difficult to do in the majors. We worried aloud that Sonnanstine would be very hittable once he was called up and that he would need to be nearly perfect just to give the Rays a chance to win.
Now that Sonny has 9 big league starts under his belt, we feel we were both right and wrong. He is never going to be a dominant major league pitcher but he will be good. In fact he is an ideal back-of-the-rotation guy. He will eat innings every time out and on most nights he will give the team a chance to win. Despite dropping to 1-5 after last night’s loss to the Angels, Sonny worked 7 strong innings and has now pitched into the 7th inning in 7 of his 9 starts.
He also will not walk many batters. Nothing kills a team more than walks. Take away his June 16th start in Colorado in which he walked 2 in 5 innings, and Sonny has walked only 5 in 58.2 innings or 0.76 walks per 9 innings. And while Sonny will always be prone to giving up home runs (11 in 9 starts) most managers will tell you that it is not the home run that kills you, it is the walk just before the home run.
Sonnanstine is 1-5 with 5.37 ERA in 9 career starts but he has proven that is capable of being a big league pitcher and is likely to be a mainstay in the Devil Rays rotation for the foreseeable future.
- Scott Kazmir
- James Shields
- Andy Sonnanstine
The beauty of this is that there are now only two question marks in the rotation down the road. Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot are knocking on the door and David Price, Wade Davis and Chris Mason are close behind. The Rays now only need two or three of those five pitchers to become dominant. In the past the Rays had no room for error with their pitching prospects. When Seth McClung, Doug Waechter and Dewon Brazleton failed, the team failed. Now if Jeff Niemann or Mitch Talbot fail, there will be another option ready to fill the hole.
Now if we can just find some help for the bullpen monstrosity.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- JK Ryu and Scott Dohmann have been called up from Durham. Either Ryu or Jason Hammel will start the first game of the double-header tomorrow in New York. Dustin Mohr was designated for assignment and Jorge Cantu was demoted to Durham. [MLB]
- No surprise here, but Jorge Cantu is not happy and we have most likely seen him for the last time as a Devil Ray. [Sports Talk]
- As the trade deadline nears, the Devil Rays have no “untouchables” on their roster. That means people will ask about Carl Crawford. It would be interesting to know what the Rays would seek in return for C.C.. Kinda like walking through the car lot and looking at the price tag on a car you know you cannot afford but you are still curious how much they are asking. [New York Post]
- The Devil Rays will begin a roadtrip tonight. Is it possible that we have seen one or two members of the Devil Rays for the last time in the green and grey? [TBO]
- Of the three major sports teams in the Tampa Bay area, the Devil Rays actually have the best all-time winning percentage. Sad. Just sad. [Sticks of Fire]
- A recent Sports Illustrated poll of major league baseball players ranked Stuart Sternberg as the third worst owner in baseball with 18% of the votes. This is likely a reflection of many baseball players being unaware that there is a new owner in the last year and a half, as it is still a little early to pass that type of judgment on a new owner. [Sun-Sentinel]
- Who knows the who plays second base for the Devil Rays? Anybody? [The D-Rays Blog]
- The Devil Rays are in discussions with the Big East about the possibility of bringing a bowl game to the Trop. We are unable to confirm that the bowl would feature the 5th place team in the Big East each season. [TBO]
- We asked to be corrected and our loyal readers came through. The Devil Rays have indeed been present in Tampa since the Westshore Plaza shop closed. The kids play area in the International Plaza is co-sponsored by the Devil Rays (Thanks Matt). [DevilRays.com]