Almost every professional sports team strives to acquire players who perform at a high level, or players who they believe will grow. The Tampa Bay Rays are different, however, as they like to bring in broken toys who they believe they can fix. Over the offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Zach Eflin who previously was a core piece of the Philadelphia Phillies’ rotation. The Rays pitching coaches have revolutionized baseball, proving that pitchers are made, not born. The Rays and Eflin are a match made in heaven for a multitude of reasons.
Some Tampa Magic
The Rays have altered the careers of countless pitchers over recent years, giving them the tools and opportunity to be great. It’s evident in the statistics their pitchers produce both before and after joining the Rays.
- Drew Rasmussen: The Rays acquired Rasmussen from the Milwaukee Brewers midway through the 2021 MLB season. In 2020, Rasmussen posted a 5.87 ERA and a WHIP of 1.696. In 2021 for the Brewers, Rasmussen posted an ERA of 4.24 and a WHIP of 1.471. In the same season, he posted an ERA of 2.44 and a WHIP of 0.966 while playing for the Rays. In 2022 Rasmussen posted an ERA of 2.84 and a WHIP of 1.041 as a full time Ray.
- Jason Adam: In his four year career prior to joining Tampa, Adam had an ERA of 4.71 and a WHIP of 1.315 in 78.1 innings pitched. During his first season as a Ray, Adam had an ERA of 1.56 and a WHIP of 0.758 in 63.1 innings pitched.
- Tyler Glasnow: As a Pittsburgh Pirate, Glasnow pitched 141.1 innings and had an ERA of 5.79 and a WHIP of 1.705. As a Ray, Glasnow has pitched 268.1 innings and has an ERA of 3.05 and a WHIP of 0.999
- Jeffrey Springs: In two years as a Texas Ranger, Springs posted an ERA of 4.90 and a WHIP of 1.663. Since then in two years as a Ray, Springs has had a 2.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.078.
Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. Here were four examples of the Rays “fixing” pitchers just over the past few seasons.
Eflin is Proven
Each of the four players listed above had joined the Rays after a year with an ERA of at least 4.71 and a WHIP of at least 1.315 prior to moving to Tampa. Eflin is coming off a season in which his ERA was 4.04 and his WHIP was 1.123. Eflin is already nearly touching all-star type numbers, any improvement that the Rays help create would make Eflin a scary pitcher to be up against. His WHIP has actually steadily decreased each of his past four seasons, further supporting the claim that he can and will improve. At 28 years old, Eflin is right in the middle of his prime as a pitcher and is in the perfect situation to put all the pieces together.
Belief and Money
The Rays love finding their diamonds in the rough and have created top-tier pitching staffs with minimal budget cost. This past offseason, the Rays signed Eflin to a three-year, $40 million contract, making Eflin the largest free agent signing in Tampa Bay Rays history. Not only do the Rays think they can improve Eflin, they believe so strongly in Eflin that they made franchise history with his acquisition. The last time the Rays spent $35 million on a single player was back in 1998, 25 years ago!
The Rays have full belief in Eflin and Eflin has full belief in the Rays; after the news of his signing broke, Eflin stated, “I don’t think there is a better team or club you can come to get better than these guys. You see it year after year with all the arms they bring in and produce. It’s a no-brainer for me. I don’t believe I’ve hit my ceiling yet. I believe there is a long way to go still.”
The sky’s the limit for Zach Eflin and the Tampa Bay Rays are determined to help the young star reach his potential. He has all the early makings of a Cy Young candidate and is a player to watch all season long.