Poche pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his first career big-league save during a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.
The 25-year-old has been credited with three blown saves this season, but now he finally has a save. He usually pitches the middle frames, but the Rays had already used Diego Castillo as an opener, and stayed away from Emilio Pagan for the ninth after he pitched Thursday. Poche owns a 6.46 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 23.2 innings this season.
Poche, who earned his sixth hold in an extra-innings loss to the White Sox on Saturday, had allowed nine earned runs over his three prior appearances and owns a 12.38 ERA across eight innings over eight relief outings in July.
The 25-year-old left-hander got his major-league career off to a relatively solid start after being called up from Triple-A Durham on June 8, posting a 1-1 record, recording four holds, and generating a 3.65 ERA across the 12.1 innings covering his 12 appearances the remainder of that month. Poche also allowed just an earned run over his first four trips to the mound in July before melting down over the aforementioned three-appearance stretch immediately preceding his outing against the White Sox. Manager Kevin Cash has nevertheless showed patience with his young reliever, and perhaps Saturday's brief (one-third of an inning) but scoreless turn plants the seed for a righting of the ship.
Poche's contract will be purchased from Triple-A Durham prior to Saturday's doubleheader in Boston, Robert Murray of The Athletic reports.
A deceptive lefty with impressive strikeout totals in the minors, Poche has a 6.26 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with Durham this year, but he has also struck out 48 over 27.1 innings. He should be deployed in low-leverage spots initially but could eventually work his way into a setup role.
The Rays reassigned Poche to their minor-league camp Saturday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
As a lefty relief prospect, Poche shouldn't be on the radar in most dynasty formats, but it's still easy to envision him making an impact in single-season leagues once he gets the call to the majors. The 24-year-old's dominance between three minor-league stops in 2018 was simply staggering, as he posted a 0.82 ERA over 66 innings to go with a 45.6 percent strikeout rate. Poche endured a bumpy spring for Tampa Bay, but if he rediscovers his 2018 form at Triple-A Durham early on this season, he may not have to wait long for a promotion.
Poche received an invite to major-league spring training and is attempting to earn a spot in the Rays bullpen, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Poche was the player to be named later in last spring's Steven Souza trade with Arizona, and compiled a 0.82 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and absurd 110:19 K:BB across 66 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. The 25-year-old relies on a deceptive low-90s fastball and continued his dominance even after being promoted to Triple-A Durham in May. The left-hander still has a tall task ahead of him to crack the Rays' Opening Day roster, but if he performs remotely close to the level he did at Durham last season he is unlikely to remain in the minors for long.
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