If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”
However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true (including that sweet no-hitter), and the result was another division title.
Without further ado…
On the fourth day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, FOUR JP Howell…
The Rays bullpen was lights out last year. But with just about everybody gone, Andrew Friedman may have his toughest task yet in rebuilding that unit. One player Joe Maddon will lean heavily on is JP Howell. But when?
The Rays have already announced Howell will start the season on the DL. Howell promised he would be ready very soon after opening day. But knowing the Rays, they will be very cautious with his recovery.
We would be shocked if Howell was pitching any games before May. And we would be a little surprised if he was back with the Rays before June.
That leaves four months for The Dude to do what The Dude do. That is, cleaning up messes left by the starting pitchers in the 7th and 8th innings. If Howell can abide for four months, that will go a long ways to solidifying a ragtag group of relievers.