Joe Maddon  and Drew Smyly

Nate Karns will make his debut with the Rays tonight after the team decided to shut Drew Smyly down for the final three weeks of the season.

The biggest reason Smyly has been shut down is the career-high 153.0 innings pitched this year between the Tigers and the Rays. That is more than twice as many as he threw last year and is a 21.4% increase over his previous career high in 2011.

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Now let’s compare that to two young pitchers the Rays are not shutting down, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi.

Both pitchers showed rapid increases in innings pitched up to the age of 21 when both were slowed down considerably. Since their age-21 seasons, only Archer in 2013 (13.4%) had his workload increase by more than 6.8% in a single season and Archer is actually down so far this season.

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In fact, you want to keep pitching Odorizzi and Archer so that they can potentially reach 200 innings pitched next year without having too make to big of a leap. At that point, the Rays will have two pitchers that will hopefully be able to throw 200 innings for the next six and five years, respectively.

What is frustrating about shutting down Smyly is that he was pitching so well with the Rays (1.70 ERA in 7 starts) and there has to be a small part of the Rays’ braintrust that would like to see him continue to build on that in preparation for next season. But there is a simple reason for Smyly’s increased success and it is one speculated about when the trade was made.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Rays told Smyly to elevate his fastball.

“The Rays told Smyly to elevate his fastball more — sort of a counter-intuitive move for a pitcher — and they also emphasized that while he was successful getting to two strikes against right-handed hitters, he needed to find better ways to finish those hitters off.”

We have speculated in the past that the Rays now seem to prefer that their pitchers throw more flyballs than groundballs and that this would explain why the Rays have stopped turning so many double-plays on defense. We also speculated that this is why the Rays targeted Smyly in the David Price trade.

Smyly was already a fly ball pitcher before he was traded to the Rays and now the Rays are trying to make him even more of a flyball pitcher.

And it has worked.

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1 Comment

  1. monte says:

    I am already getting excited about Spring Training 2015. Looks like we're going to have a very strong pitching staff next year. When will Moore potentially return? Wow!

    The hitting has been atrocious this year. Defense has not been spectacular. Cork, how do you see this team improving its offense, or will it?

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