Is Jeremy Hellickson breaking the mold?

It’s no secret that Andrew Friedman, Gerry Hunsicker, and the rest of the Rays’ front office is developing one of the best young starting rotations in baseball down in Tampa. Led by top-pick David Price, 26, a Cy Young candidate two years back with a 5-1 record and a 2.35 ERA on the season, Tampa’s rotation has been the league’s second best this year. The Rays are 19-9 on the season and their starting rotation 16-6 in those games with a 3.51 ERA.

Price has a 2.49 FIP, a career best. James Shields has a 2.94 xFIP, also a career best. Jeff Niemann is one of the best back of the rotation starters in baseball – he has a 3.61 xFIP this season, a 3.73 last year – and while Matt Moore has struggled with a 5.71 ERA on the season, no one is seriously worried about baseball’s top prospect. The Rays’ are taking the AL East by storm, and their rotation is a big part of that success.… Click here to read the rest

Yanks drop second straight game to Tampa Bay

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

I admittedly haven’t been watching much baseball since the Yankees clinched their playoff spot last Wednesday, and so I didn’t see a single inning of last night’s 5-3 loss to the Rays. This feeling of ennui in the aftermath of Yankee losses is a weird one — one that will undoubtedly be shaken off come 8:37pm Friday night — but also represents an enjoyable reprieve after 155 games of caring deeply about the outcome of a given Yankee game.

In fact, I couldn’t help but be mildly annoyed to see the Yankees leading 3-2 through six innings while Boston jumped out to a commanding lead over the Baltimore Buck Showalters as I checked my BlackBerry for the score. Thankfully (again, weird to be typing this) Rafael Soriano gave up a three-run homer to Matt Joyce to put the Rays ahead for good, ensuring that the tie for the Wild Card would live another day.

Probably the most important takeaway from this game was that Bartolo Colon was able to go 5.1 innings and only surrender two runs.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees clinch 17th American League East title; beat Rays 4-2

It never gets old. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Approximately seven hours after earning their 2011 postseason berth, the Yankees clinched their 17th American League East title, beating the Rays 4-2, sweeping the doubleheader, securing the series victory and ensuring a stress-free final week of the season as the team prepares to kick off the American League Division Series next Friday, September 30.

CC Sabathia and Jeremy Hellickson were locked in a pitchers’ duel in this one, with the former going 7 1/3 and giving up two runs — both on solo home runs, to Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez, natch — and the latter going seven and also giving up two runs and limiting the Yankees to only two hits.

Sabathia threw 127 pitches but couldn’t get through the 8th, and after loading the bases Joe Girardi summoned David Robertson to do what he’s done all season — get out of a bases-loaded jam, this time on only one pitch.… Click here to read the rest

Zombie Posada hits granny; backs second straight strong outing by Hughes

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

This was a fun one, not only because the Yanks blew the Rays out 9-2, but also because I got to watch it with Matt Imbrogno, MJR, and fellow huge fans Bexy, Rich and Dave.

Jorge Posada must not have been terribly thrilled about his recent benching, because he went crazy in this game, getting the Yankees on board in the 2nd on a two-run bases-loaded single and blowing the game open in the fifth with his 10th career grand slam. It was all part of a 3-5, 6 RBI day for Posado. The Yankees were able to knock Jeremy Hellickson out after a mere 4.1 innings (due in part to Curtis Granderson‘s MLB-lead-tying 33rd home run of the season), and went to town on Rays’ relievers Brandan Gomes and Cesar Ramos.

Phil Hughes had his second straight strong outing, holding the Rays scoreless through five before yielding a solo blast to Desmond Jennings and an RBI groundout.… Click here to read the rest

Players to Watch: A.L. East

NL West-AL Central can be found here

At long last, I’ll be done with this series of posts. And, fittingly, we end it with the Yankees’ division: The American League East. Without question, this is the best division in baseball. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are three of the top teams in either league. The Blue Jays would appear much better if they weren’t in this hellacious division, and I’m sure rebuilding would’ve been easier for the Orioles. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson. Rated the #18 prospect before 2010, Hellickson has put together a great minor league career and had a successful cup of coffee with the big club in 2010. He’ll be a big part of Tampa’s rotation this year and we could have a budding pitching star on our hands. Good luck in your Major League career, dude. I hope you kick ass against everyone else (especially Boston) and suck against the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Yanks Will Be Dealing With Rays For Foreseeable Future

[image title=”alg_rays-yanks-brawl” size=”full” id=”14624″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]
When the Rays shockingly took the division in 2008, many Yankee fans dismissed it as an aberration, and suggested that the Rays would fall out of contention once their current crop of younger stars neared free agency. However, it seems that the Rays have a contingency plan in place to prevent that from happening. From Buster Olney:

But if they languish in the AL East race behind the Yankees and Red Sox, or if they got hit by a wave of injuries, then there would appear to be a chance that they would start looking to deal Crawford, Pena, Soriano and others.

Just like sailors in a lifeboat, the Rays must constantly bail payroll, whenever and wherever they can, which is why they must rely, always, on the young and cheap players whenever and however they can. “It’s what we have to do,” said Andrew Friedman, the Rays’ general manager. “It’s our lot in life.

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