The Five Most Disappointing Tampa Bay Rays Part 2

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In case you missed it, read part one of the five most disappointing Tampa Bay Rays here.

SP Chris Archer

33 starts, 196 innings, 9-12, 4.18 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 3.33 xFIP, 4.4 fWAR

Yes, here’s the Rays’ other All-Star, also on the list of biggest disappointments. This one might be a bit controversial. Archer’s FIP and his strikeouts (11.16 per nine innings) suggest he was very good this season. Archer often preaches putting more faith in the process over results. At some point, though, the Rays need better results from Archer. He’s the de facto ace of the team, but he’s running an ERA over four for the second straight season. Like almost everyone, I do recognize that wins and losses are a terrible way to evaluate pitchers. Especially pitchers who play on a team like the Rays that loses a lot more than they win. I also recognize that ERA can be a less accurate reflection of how a pitcher performed than FIP.

Bear with me, though, as I rant about how the Rays lose far more often than not when their “ace” starts, and don’t completely exonerate him of blame for it. Even bad teams that have legitimate aces win more often than not when their ace starts. Chris Sale‘s record as a starter on Chicago White Sox teams that were never any good was 70-47. Archer’s record over the last two seasons is 18-31. Regardless of how bad their team is, I don’t know many elite starting pitchers with a winning percentage below .400. That’s the bar for Archer — he’s supposed to be elite.

But if Archer really is an ace, at some point he is going to have to do a better job of doing what it takes to prevent runs and help the Rays win games. Archer also had a truly awful September as the Rays plunged out of the race rather than make one final push. He has an ERA of 9.72 and a FIP of 5.98. He’s gone longer than four innings once in five starts. Yes, he lost all five of those starts.

SP Jake Odorizzi

27 starts, 139.1 innings, 10-8, 4.26 ERA, 5.52 FIP, 5.17 xFIP, 0.0 fWAR

At least he’s finishing strong, with a 1.21 ERA and 3.07 FIP in four September starts, but it’s too little, too late to salvage a positive season for Odorizzi. Sure, the ERA is respectable now, but he can probably thank a .226 BABIP for that. As the FIP suggests, Odorizzi didn’t pitch as well as the ERA indicates, not that the ERA is even that good. Odorizzi did well on balls that were hit in play this year, but too many balls were hit into the seats, having given up 30 home runs, good for a staggering rate of 1.94 per nine innings. He also by far had the biggest problem with walks of his career, with 3.88 per nine (his career average is 2.96). While his walks and homers soared, his strikeout rate remained modest at 7.94 per nine (8.20 for his career).

Odorizzi has two seasons of team control left and is due an arbitration raise from his $4.1 million 2017 salary. This is right around the time the Rays usually like to trade their starting pitchers. You might think the Rays won’t want to sell low on Odorizzi, though Drew Smyly was in the same position last off-season (two years of control left, coming off a bad year) and the Rays still managed to get a nice package from the Seattle Mariners for him in Mallex Smith and a pair of prospects, left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough (MLB.com’s 17th-ranked Rays prospect) and infielder Carlos Vargas.

(Dis)honorable mentions

SP Blake Snell

23 starts, 122.1 innings, 4-7, 4.27 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 4.83 xFIP, 1.4 fWAR

Incredibly, Snell managed to avoid the top five of this list after finally getting things going towards the end of the season. For most of the year, though, he was perhaps the most disappointing and frustrating Ray.

RP Alex Colome

64 appearances, 65.2 innings, 2-3, 3.15 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 4.35 xFIP, 46/52 saves, 1.2 fWAR

He’s going to be MLB’s leader in saves, but Colome’s performance fell off quite a bit from his All-Star 2016 season, when he had a 1.91 ERA and 2.92 FIP. The strikeouts fell off dramatically (11.28 per nine to 7.81) and the walks went up (2.38 to 3.15). There are closers who make fans feel comfortable when they come in to finish off a game. Then there are closers who make fans feel nervous right from the start. Last year’s Colome was the former. This year, too many rough patches, and, even in some occasions when he got the job done, too many adventurous outings had a lot of Rays fans feeling a lot less comfortable with him.

SS Matt Duffy

Zero games, .000/.000/.000, zero home runs, zero RBI, 0 WRC+, 0.0 fWAR

Hard to blame a guy too much for injury, because the situation isn’t really his fault. Still, with the Rays well out of the race last year, Duffy ended his season a few weeks early to get surgery on his heel, so he could be ready to go at the start of the season. The fact that he not only wasn’t ready to start this year, but missed the entire season, seems crazy. It’s truly one of the weirdest injury situations I’ve ever seen, with it just not getting better and no one seeming to be able to figure out what the problem was.

Duffy seemed to be perpetually a few weeks away for the entire year. Eventually, as he never seemed to get closer, and the team struggled to provide clear answers about his status, fans started to wonder what exactly was going on and whether we’d actually see him this year. Turns out, incredibly, that we didn’t.

The Rays acquired him from the San Francisco Giants at last year’s non-waiver trade deadline in the Matt Moore deal, with plans to make him their starting shortstop. Duffy still has three seasons of team control left (he is arbitration eligible for the first time this off-season), but as mentioned earlier when talking about Miller, Tampa Bay’s middle infield looks crowded, and after missing an entire year, it’s now a bit unclear what the Rays’ plan is for Duffy going forward. Duffy and the Rays say they finally feel like they can see the light at the end of the tunnel with his injury. Let’s hope that’s the case, because there’s upside here if he can get on the field — he was worth 4.7 fWAR in his first full season with the Giants in 2015.

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