Tagged in: Rays

Colin Poche will miss the season with torn UCL

Rays lefty Colin Poche has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will miss the 2020 campaign, the team announced.

Tommy John surgery has been suggested for the 26-year-old Poche, who has been placed on the 45-day injured list. Tampa Bay selected veteran catcher Kevan Smith to the big league roster in a corresponding move.

The loss of Poche is a tough blow for the Tampa Bay bullpen. While last season’s 4.70 ERA doesn’t exactly stand out as an impressive mark. Poche’s secondary numbers were all considerably better.

The southpaw averaged 12.5 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings pitched with a 4.08 FIP in 51 2/3 frames. In spite of that unsightly ERA, Poche overwhelmed both left- and right-handed hitters, yielding just a .167/.276/.348 slash to lefties and a .190/.277/.388 line to righties.

A 67.6 percent strand rate that was massively worse than his career mark in the minors, and Statcast pegged Poche in the 91st percentile or better in terms of swinging-strike rate and his opponents’ expected batting average, slugging percentage and weight on-base average.

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A breakout season for the talented lefty seemed eminently possible, but he could now be sidelined into late 2021 — if not all the way into the 2022 campaign.

Poche will get a year of service time in 2020 as he rehabs on the 45-day IL, and he’ll need to be placed on the 60-day IL to open the 2021 season as well. If he is indeed out until 2022, he may be arbitration-eligible as a Super Two player by the time he’s able to return to the mound, although with 114 days under his belt at the moment, he’d be a very borderline case for Super Two status.

As for the 32-year-old Smith, he’ll likely make the club’s roster as a backup catcher. Smith has seen time in each of the past four seasons — 2016-18 with the White Sox and 2019 with the Angels — hitting a combined .272/.318/.381 along the way.

That’s pretty solid production from behind the plate, but Smith also owns a woeful 14 percent caught stealing rate and has posted sub-par framing numbers as well.

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Rays chase Verlander early, beat Astros to even ALDS

The Tampa Bay Rays never disbelieved themselves, even with Justin Verlander looking to end their season.

Willy Adames homered and made a extraordinary relay throw from shortstop, and the Rays chased the Houston ace early in beating the Astros 4-1 Tuesday night to even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

With their second victory in two days over one of baseball’s best pitchers, the Rays believe the rest of the country is finally getting a taste of what they’re capable of achieving.

”Hey, I hate to say it: About time, because we have a really good team over here,” Tommy Pham said.

”To win 96 games in this division (the AL East) with New York and Boston is an impressive feat,” he added. ”All year, we’ve been getting talked down. And now, with the last two games, the way we played, the whole world has seen how good of a team we are and how well-rounded we are.”

The series shifts back to Houston for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday night.

Astros star Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch for the heavily favored AL West champs, who led the majors with 107 wins this season and have one more chance to close out the feisty Rays. Tyler Glasnow is expected to start for Tampa Bay.

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The winner plays the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

Verlander, starting on short rest after dominating the wild-card Rays in Game 1, looked uncomfortable on the mound at Tropicana Field and was pulled in the fourth after giving up four runs.

Verlander, whose eight career ALDS victories are a major league record, yielded three runs in the first. Adames homered leading off the fourth to make it 4-0, and the eight-time All-Star didn’t make it through the inning.

”A good approach for those guys in the first, and then honestly, I need those infield singles to be caught. When you don’t have it, you need the balls that are put in play to go your way, and they didn’t,” said Verlander, who only started on short rest three other times during his career, including the 2011 ALDS, when he started Games 1 and 3 after Game 1 was suspended in the second inning.

The Rays helped themselves by playing stellar defense, especially with the Astros threatening to cut into their three-run deficit in the fourth.

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