Let’s Not Take Starting Pitching For Granted

Posted: February 18, 2011 in AL East, Braves, Rays

We have heard about all the shrewd deals the Rays have made over the past few years. Ben Zobrist came over for Aubrey Huff.  J.P. Howell from the Royals for Joey Gathright. But the heart and soul of this team is the starting rotation that the organization has developed each and every one of them from within. With David Price, James Shields, Jeff Neimann, Wade Davis, and Helickson filling out the rotation it makes it look like its so easy to develop pitchers. However, for every one of the current success cases, there are memories of close to a decade of failed pitchers such as Dewon Brazelton, James Houser to name a few.

The Rays had one hard time before this current group of developing a starting pitcher within the organization. It either was that Chuck LaMar was picking all the wrong players, or there has been a change in philosiphy.  I tend to think its all about picking the talent.  But, part of it is picking winners with not just their arm. We are talking about players with strong work ethics and students of the game. This current crop of Rays starting pitchers has the discipline and are driven by the critics to keep trying to succeed. For example, despite David Price’s success in 2010 he has his sights on becoming an even more complete pitcher.

The Braves built a dynasty with their pitching in 1990s. Why is it that this group is not regarded in the same way Glavine, Smoltz, Maddux and all the other Braves pitchers. I honestly see the Rays starting pitching being a little deeper than those Atlanta teams. 

Guess what? There is even more pitching help on the way. With Chris Archer who came over from the Cubs and Matt Walker the flame thowing pitcher who close to being ready.

Now the starting pitcher to watch this year is James Shields who could be primed for a rebound. At one point Shields was the Ace of this rotation and will have enough motivation this year to get back that impressive K/BB ratio he showed earlier in his career.  It’s no secret he struggled last year.  Also, the second half by Wade Davis might be the same boost that Price showed before his breakout last year. Helickson was a man among boys at Durham last year. I have nothing but good thoughts about him in his first full year. Niemann’s 2010 was not as impressive as the year before.  Honestly, David Price got all the press clippiings last year. This year he might have to share the spotlight.

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