Following the ball game Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they have designated reliever Jumbo Diaz for assignment, and selected the contract of RHP Andrew Kittredge from Triple-A Durham.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 16, 2017
The 33-year-old flamethrower struggled mightily with the Rays, performing to a bloated 5.70 ERA/4.51 FIP over 30 innings of work, while culling a minuscule 30.7% ground-ball rate. Diaz’s strikeout rate wasn’t horrible (8.4 K/9), although his 4.5 BB/9 — and the fact that he walked six batters over 6-1/3 high-leverage innings; an 8.53 BB/9 in those situations — made him a shaky and undependable option out of the Rays ‘pen. To his credit, and as Connor Byrne (MLB Trade Rumors) noted, he ranks third among relievers in infield fly rate (22.5%). Still, that wasn’t enough to keep Diaz with the team, as he seemed to be pitching himself into trouble more often than not.
It fails to be seen whether the Rays will target a reliever at the trade deadline, although there have been multiple reports connecting the team to Hunter Strickland. For now they’ll lean on Kittredge — a 45th round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2008. Kittredge was acquired from Seattle over the winter in the Taylor Motter/Richie Shaffer trade, and has performed to a 1.90 ERA/2.48 FIP over 52 innings of work (30 appearances; two starts) with Durham this season, while notching healthy 9.35 K/9 and 2.08 BB/9 rates, and accumulating a 52.2% ground ball rate.
The scouting report on Kittredge: the right-hander relies upon a whiffy 92 mph four-seam fastball with some extra backspin movement, as well as an 85 mph slider with good depth. He also mixes in a whiffy 74 mph curveball with exceptional bite from time to time.
The 27 year-old has yet to pitch in a Major League ball-game.
Deep thoughts following the #Rays 4-3 loss in the series finale…
Twice Sunday Rays hurlers followed up mistake run scoring pitches, with quality strikes to induce outs. In the fifth inning, after Albert Pujols fell behind then knocked in a run on a liner to right, Chris Archer fanned Yunel Escobar (swinging) on three pitches. Then in the eighth, after CJ Cron hit the first-pitch two-run homer, Adam Kolarek coaxed a pair of ground ball outs on two consecutive pitches.
On top of that, Jesus Sucre failed to place two tags on Andrelton Simmons and Nick Franklin (respectively), consequently allowing two runs to score.
True, the Halos out pitched the Rays today, and you can’t win games if you don’t score runs. However, we’d be talking about a different outcome had Archer and Kolarek come up with the big pitches needed instead of throwing a pair of mistake pitches, and/or had Sucre defended the plate a bit better.
Looking at the bright side, at least Tampa Bay put up a fight Sunday afternoon and snagged a series win.