The Rays are in trouble. In addition to being in last place, they've lost five in a row and 11 of their last 13 games. On Thursday, TV analyst Brian Anderson called out the team for poor leadership, to which the players responded by dropping a game to the lowly Twins.
As if that wasn't enough, afterward starter Matt Moore took the opportunity to ponder manager Kevin Cash's hook:
"I'm not questioning the moves they're making, I'm just saying we do have more in the tank," Moore said. "That if he does allow us to go out there for the sixth or the seventh or whatever inning it is, that we are going to be okay, that we are going to be able to compete in those moments.
"If you probably look at the average number of pitches that our starters are getting versus the league average -- I don't know what it is because I'm not a big numbers guy and I don't go on the Internet looking for stuff like that -- but I know routinely I'm watching guys pitch in the sixth inning with 100 pitches and the seventh with 110," Moore said.
Cash, if you'll recall, raised eyebrows last season by pulling his back-end starters after they went through the opposition's lineup twice -- as a means to keep them from being overexposed. Moore's comments would've fit in fine last June, since he wouldn't have been the only one wrestling with whether the strategy was worth the trouble.
The problem is Moore's comments don't fit in fine now. While he acknowledges that he's not a numbers guy (or a researcher, for that matter), he's wrong in his assertion that the Rays are being pulled earlier than average. In fact, he's about as far off as one can get. The Rays entered Friday tied for the fourth-most pitches per start in baseball. In other words, it's not that Cash has a quick hook -- it's that the Rays' starters aren't pitching efficiently enough to work deep into games.
Here are some numbers from each of the Rays' last 13 starts:
On the four occasions where Cash lifted the starter before he threw 95 pitches, three of those were accompanied by Game Scores below 30. The exception was Matt Andriese's start on May 30, and that's easy enough to explain, since Andriese is the kind of back-end starter whose appearances should be micromanaged. Otherwise? The Rays' rotation would be wise to heed the advice of former Rays James Shields and David Price: don't like it? Pitch better.
So, to recap: the Rays are losing a lot; their announcer is calling them out for poor leadership; and their rotation is mad at their manager for allowing them to throw a lot of pitches without working a lot of innings. Yup, it's just like the good old, D-Rays days down in St. Petersburg.
On the bright side, at least their old skipper isn't managing the best team in baseball. Oh, right.