Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ve more than heard that JP Howell got picked up by the LA Dodgers for a cool $2.75MM. Sorry to break the news to you this way if you hadn’t heard. I will miss Howell, though I don’t think the Dodgers recent acquisition represents a move of foreboding doom for the Rays. Rather, I think the Rays could be okay without The Dude on the bump.
The Rays currently have seven lefties on the 40-man roster, be them relief pitchers or pitchers that could make the transition to the pen if necessary.
We’ve seen how Jake McGee can devastate opposing batters, and I am really excited by the prospect of Cesar Ramos getting the opportunity to pitch regularly.
We’re all pretty familiar with Ramos’ low-90s fastball, his changeup and slider that he uses against righties and lefties respectively, and a pretty good curveball. He has enough pitches to be a starter and could be used in that role, in times of need (ahem, we’re looking at you, Niemann). He could also fill the long relief role if necessary. His 54.4% GB percentage in 30 innings of work, in 2012, certainly a’int shabby either.
I’m also interested in seeing what Frank De Los Santos, Brandon Gomes, and Mike Montgomery have to offer in 2013. DRaysBay described De Los Santos as being,
A pitcher that could step in to Howell’s 2012 role, Frank De Los Santos, who posted a 6.80 K/9 in AAA with a 2.50 BB/9 and has favorable GB tendencies. FDLS will likely start the year back in Durham, but look for him down the road should a wormburner or a LOOGY get injured.
Let’s also not forget about Alex Torres, who we wrote about back on the fourth of January.
Though Howell played a key role in 2012, I don’t think his loss signals the downfall of the Rays pen in any way, shape, or form. Andrew Friedman noted that the Rays are still in the market for a couple of arms, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rays make some moves before pitchers and catchers report in February. Combine that with the Rays organizational pitching depth, and I think we could see a pretty potent pitching staff in 2013.