Three of the last four seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays have unveiled a new top pitching prospect late in the season. Each season, they've dominated.
In 2008, it was former top overall selection David Price who recorded the save in Game 7 of the ALCS just weeks after his major league debut. In 2010, Jeremy Hellickson went a perfect 4-0 in four starts down the stretch. And just last season, 22-year-old Matt Moore made his second big league start a memorable one, dominating the Texas Rangers for seven innings of scoreless ball in Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS.
It's been quite the run for the Tampa Bay rotation which finished fourth in baseball last season with a 3.53 ERA. That mark was the best by a rotation in franchise history.
While the top three rotation slots have been locked down by Price, Hellickson and veteran James Shields, the final two remain open to competition heading into spring training.
-Can Matt Moore pick up where he left off in 2011, claiming a slot?
-Will Jeff Niemann be ousted after three years in the rotation?
-Are Alexander Torres and Alex Cobb ready to compete after dominant showings at Triple-A Durham?
All of these questions will be answered this spring, but for now here’s a look at how the Rays' rotation is shaping up.