Spring Preview 2014: The Rotation | The Process Report

Spring Preview 2014: The Rotation

With camp opening this week, we’re going to begin previewing the roster in segments. Today we’ll focus on the potential members of the opening day rotation. The format is as follows:

Player name
Position
2013 role
Expected 2014 role
A brief breakdown of the player

Chris Archer
Starter
Joined big-league rotation for good in June
Member of the rotation

Arguably the best pure stuff of any pitcher of the staff. Archer’s mid-to-upper 80s slider is one of the best of its kind and perhaps the most dominant piece in the rotation. He routinely gives right-handed batters bambi legs; however, can look like a young buck versus lefties. A changeup to combat the split would be nice but the heater and slider are more than enough to get by with in the interim.

Erik Bedard
Pitcher
Spent last season with Houston
Possible member of the rotation or bullpen.

A left-handed veteran with a decade of experience, Bedard was a late edition to the Rays’ spring training roster. Equipped with a deceptive delivery, an effective upper-70s curveball, and assorted other pieces of a mostly average arsenal, the native Canadian is expected to compete for job as the fifth starter or the seventh reliever.

Alex Cobb
Starter
Member of the rotation. Missed time with head injury
Same (without the head injury, hopefully)

When healthy Cobb might have been the club’s best starter last season. He overcomes lack of velocity with excellent secondary offerings and firm command. The splitter rivals Archer’s slider in terms of potency. A pupil of James Shields’ school of pitching backwards, he threw a curveball on first pitch nearly 40 percent of the time (second highest rate in MLB). A bulldog on the mound with advanced feel for sequencing and changing eye levels.

Jeremy Hellickson
Starter
Spent most of 2013 in MLB Rotation
Same

Hellickson’s 2014 debut will likely not take place until June as he needed offseason elbow surgery to remove bone chips. Hellickson’s 2013 issues were related to how he worked out of the stretch as his numbers from the windup were nearly identical to what they were in 2012 and 2013. Hellickson should benefit from the framing duo of Hanigan and Molina as well as a decreased usage of the slide step as it adversely affects how he locates his pitches.

Matt Moore
Starter
Member of the rotation
Same

Moore took a superficial leap in terms of win-loss record and ERA, but needs a bit more polishing before he takes the anchor position in the rotation. Above-average, three-pitch mix including an excellent changeup against right-handers and a curveball for both sides. Experimented with same-side off-speed pitches before elbow injury. Control is key to next level.

Jake Odorizzi
Starter
Split 2013 between Triple-A and the majors
Possible member of the rotation

Jeremy Hellickson’s injury opened the door for Odorizzi. An athletic strikethrower with a deep arsenal of average and solid-average pitches, Odorizzi has the potential to become a no. 4 starter. He’ll need to improve his command, but he should be a capable short-term replacement.

David Price
Starter
Spent 2013 in MLB Rotation
Same

Many are surprised that Price is still with the Rays as the assumption was he would be traded during the offseason. The Rays either did not like what was offered or felt that their best move was to go for it in 2014 by keeping Price. They run the risk of him incurring an injury as he did last year, which would diminish his trade value next offseason along with an arbitration salary in 2015 would be upwards of $20M. Still, a return of Price’s velocity along with the Cliff Lee-like precision he displayed at times in the second half of 2013 would go a long way in 2014.



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