Daily Process: Sam Fuld Does Sam Fuld Things | The Process Report

Daily Process: Sam Fuld Does Sam Fuld Things

Tommy has more on Wade Davis coming up, but his seventh inning is going to overshadow an otherwise solid outing. There strikeout and whiffs weren’t there all day, still he reeled off something like 13-to-14 straight outs at one point. I don’t think Davis pitched poorly, but for me, at least, he was the least impressive of the three starts.

Something I want to look deeper into this season is whether Davis “saves” his velocity for big spots. Last year, for instance, his fastball velocity jumped a mile per hour between bases empty and a runner in scoring position. It’s something you see with Justin Verlander in Detroit. He’ll sit in the low-90s until he needs it, then he can pump it up into the mid-90s. I think the concept is an often overstated part of pitcher’s games (you rarely see a noticeable difference over the long run), but an otherwise interesting aspect.

Thus far, Ben Zobrist has been the Rays’ most encouraging batter. One thing about Zobrist is that he can work a count. He may not find himself in hitters counts always, but generally, Zobrist is good for running a pitch count up. What’s interesting so far is how Zobrist is blasting pitches outside of those hitters counts while also walking at a nice clip in other plate appearances. Zobrist’s home run off Jim Johnson came on the first pitch of the at-bat, as did his long, deep fly to right field on Saturday night (alias: The Nick Markakis play). Zobrist’s first-inning double came on a 2-2 count and a liner into right field (also on Saturday night) was on a 3-2 count. I suppose there is something to be said for anticipation versus identification in these counts, but I am not willing to say there is more predictive power or redemptive value than if he were hitting rockets from 3-0 or 3-1 counts.

Oh, and I’d be remiss without applauding Zobrist’s defensive efforts as well. With the Opening Day lineup installed, the Rays have one of the best defensive infields in baseball.

Zach Britton is going to get a lot of attention for his start today and rightfully so. I would like to point out Matt Joyce’s plate appearance in the third as a remarkable effort from someone who has struggled against lefties. Joyce waited Britton out and stayed alive, extending his trip to the plate long enough to draw a walk. He would eventually score the Rays’ only run on the day. Once the Rays began to hold off on Britton’s sinker, they were able to string together some good at-bats. Unfortunately, what balls they hit hard always seemed to find a glove.

Sam Fuld had a memorable day in his first starting assignment. Right off the bat he made a defensive play that can only be described as Fuldian: stumbling over the Orioles’ bullpen mound, yet having the wherewithal to still catch the ball. He later attempted to bunt but drew a walk. Truth be told, it looked Fuld’s size –or lack thereof— and action played into a borderline call or two going his way. The Rays have witnessed this phenomenon with Dustin Pedroia before, so it’s nice to be on the receiving end for one. Fuld also threw a runner out at the plate.

B.J. Upton was 23 of his last 27 at stealing third base. He’s 0-for-2 this year, but it’s hard to blame him for the failure today. Matt Wieters made a nice play and it appeared to be a designed double steal, with Elliot Johnson trailing him to second.

Every member of the Rays active roster has received an at-bat or recorded an out now. Even Felipe Lopez.

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