The Tampa Bay Rays' starting rotation has enough talent to take the team to the postseason again in 2014. That is, if you consider credentials including a Cy Young winner, Gold Glove winner, Rookie of the Year and two All-Stars to be postseason-caliber talent.
Not to mention, the combined success of the organization to make the postseason in four of the last six seasons.
Barring a surprise acquisition, the pitchers who will comprise the Rays' starting rotation in 2014 are already on the team roster. The players who will make up the rotation should not be a surprise, as they have each been in the organization for a while.
In the event of injury, they have three young prospects in Jake Odorizzi, Enry Romero and Alex Colome who are ready to come up and make a spot start. The three pitchers are also available for promotion in the event that the speculated David Price trade ever comes to fruition.
Here is a look at the projected rotation for the Rays in 2014.
All statistics and salary numbers courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Chris Archer will likely be the Tampa Bay Rays' fifth starter going into 2014. The 23-year-old right-hander finished 2013 with a 9-7 record and 3.22 ERA in 23 starts.
The on-the-mound training he received in those 23 starts should give both him and the team confidence in his abilities to start at the major league level.
Prior to the 2013 season, he had never pitched more than seven innings as a professional. By the end of the season, he had two complete-game shutouts under his belt. He also finished third in voting for the AL Rookie of the Year, which was won by teammate Wil Myers.
If Archer can continue to develop and mature over the course of the 2014 season, he should be able to give the Rays a confident starter who can be counted on for at least six innings per start.
Jeremy Hellickson did not look like a former Rookie of the Year or Gold Glove winner in 2013. He did not take a step backwards—he did a three-point-turn and drove in the opposite direction.
Hellickson finished the season with a disappointing 5.17 ERA in 2013. He was the only Rays' starter who started more than four games and did not record a complete game.
He allowed 100 runs in 31 starts after only allowing 137 combined in his previous 64 major league starts. Somehow, he finished with a 12-10 record despite his inconsistent play.
One bad season does not mean that Hellickson’s best days are behind him. It does mean that he is likely to start the season closer to the bottom of the rotation than the top.
Alex Cobb was the most consistent Rays' starter in 2013. His performance was incredible when you consider the fact that he missed two months in the middle of the season after being hit in the head by a line drive.
He finished the season with an 11-3 record and 2.76 ERA in 22 games started.
Cobb allowed 2.89 runs per nine innings pitched, the best among the Rays’ starting pitchers, in 2013. He needed that level of performance since he received the least amount of run support on the staff with 3.3 runs per game started.
Cobb is poised to have a very good 2014. His consistency makes him an ideal third starter for a team that prides itself on pitching and defense as the blueprint to success.
Matt Moore had a good season in 2013 that included his first All-Star Game selection. He should start the year as the second pitcher in the Rays' rotation.
The left-handed pitcher finished second among American League pitchers in win-loss percentage with .810 and third with 17 wins. He led the team in both those statistical categories despite missing over a month due to elbow soreness.
Unfortunately, he finished 2013 leading the AL with 17 wild pitches. His 76 walks were the sixth-most in the AL.
Moore should be ready to take on the role of being the second starter in 2014. The experience will help him get ready to take over as the ace of the staff. Of course, that is assuming the spot becomes vacant.
David Price could still be the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays’ rotation in 2014. His 2013 season did not live up to the expectations that follow a Cy Young Award-winning season.
Price finished the 2013 season with a 10-8 record that included four complete games. His 27 starts were his fewest since 2009, his first full season in the majors.
For Price, 2013 was a tale of two seasons.
The first half of last season was rough for Price and included a stint on the DL for just over a month. He had a 3-5 record, .375 win-loss percentage and a 3.94 ERA in 12 starts.
After the All-Star break, he finished the season with a 7-3 record, .700 win-loss percentage and 2.87 ERA.
Most people, Price included, expected him to be traded going into this offseason. Since no moves have been made as of yet, the probability of him remaining in Tampa Bay for another season increases.
As long as he is under contract with the Rays, he is the starter at the top of the rotation.