The Tampa Bay Rays are again the talk of the region as June of 2014 begins.
In seasons past, we’ve marveled at how well they’ve performed on such a tight budget. This year, we wonder at how ordinary they’ve gotten.
The three sports talk stations (and a Spanish language sports talk station) plus the countless blogs in our region (including this one, I admit) over analyze it, can’t stop talking about it. But if you ask me, the reason is pretty simple.
Pitches. Not pitching, but just pitches.
These days, most starting pitchers can throw 100 in-game pitches effectively before, on the average, they get tired and need to be relieved. As opposed to the years where the Rays were doing well, this year they seem to get to that magic number of 100 quicker. Instead of reaching that figure in the 5th or 6th inning, they’ve been getting there in the 5th inning or before.
It’s like football, where a lack offensive progress has a cumulative effect on even the best defenses. You keep adding to the workload of a bullpen in a baseball, the same cumulative effect takes place. Sooner or later, someone comes out of the bullpen and gets rocked.
Hope things get better for the Rays. I’m going to see them on my birthday (September 6th), and I hope they can get in the playoff argument by then. Win or lose, I’ll still be there.