Red Sox 3, Devil Rays 0.
Well, you saw that one coming. Not only did the Rays not get to their hotel until 6:30 in the morning, but Red Sox fans are so desperate these days that one panicked member of Pink Sox Nation felt that the Scarlett Ho’s needed help against the team with the worst record in baseball. That’s right, at 8:00 AM the fire alarm at the Rays’ hotel “mysteriously” went off.

We never thought we would do this…but we are openly rooting for the Yankees to overcome the last few games so that the 2007 Red Sox go down in history as the team that blew a 14.5 game lead.

With James Shields throwing 6 more innings last night and Scott Kazmir on the mound tonight, the biggest concern for the last few weeks of the season is the number of innings pitched by each pitcher. After tonight, if Joe Maddon sticks to his five-man rotation for the rest of the season, both pitchers will have eight more starts. Kazmir is averaging 6 innings per start which puts him on pace for 205 for the year. Shields is averaging 6.8 innings per start and is on pace for 225.1 innings.

Young pitchers are notorious for having off-years after seasons in which they throw considerably more innings than they are used to. Kazmir’s professional career high is 186 innings in 2005, and if he throws 205 this year, that would only be a 10.2% increase over his previous career high. However, Kazmir may have felt the effects of throwing all those innings in 2005 by experiencing a tired shoulder in the second half of 2006.

Shields threw 186 innings last year which bested his previous career high by 43 innings. We may have seen the effects during a recent 8 start stretch in which he went 2-6, during which he may have been suffering from a “dead arm”. Still, Shields is on pace to top last years’ innings total by 21.1% which must be of concern for Joe Maddon, Andrew Friedman and Devil Rays fans everywhere.

It will be interesting to see how Maddon handles both pitchers down the stretch. We could see Maddon limit their pitch counts with both pitchers being pulled after 80-90 pitches in an effort to save their arms. The other option which may be more likely, is to see Friedman promote Jeff Niemann and go with a 6-man rotation for the final month of the season. Such a move would mean 1-2 fewer starts and 12-13 fewer innings in 2007.

Spring Training 2008 has already begun and several pitchers are auditioning for jobs. Such is not the case for Kid K and James Shields. Those two can already be penciled in at the top of the rotation so there is nothing left to prove in 2007 and no reason to push them too hard. Let them continue to work and continue to improve, but it is time to reel them back a little bit and ease up on their workload as a preventative measure for 2008.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Tim Wakefield had a no-hitter through 6 innings that was broken up by Carl Crawford. [TBO]
  • Both David Price and Fernando Cabrera remain unsigned. Why is everybody all worked up about Cabrera, a pitcher with a 5.00+ ERA each of the last two seasons? We have no idea. Could he be good? Sure. But people are acting like this guy is a savior. Calm down folks. His numbers mirror Chad Orvella. [TBO]
  • Remember the crazy Canadian that tortured himself by writing about (pronounced “A-BOOT” in Canadian) the history of the Devil Rays? Well he is back today with a look at how things are getting better. [Jack Jock's Thought]
  • According to The Pig Pen, the Devil Rays have the worst uniforms in the American League. Certainly they do not have the history of the Yankees or the Red Sox, but the Rays green and grey are not that bad. In fact, we are hesitant to see the change of colors to be presented this fall. [The Pig Pen]
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