If there is any better example of why teams should always draft and sign the best player available, especially when it comes to adding talent in the minors, you don’t need to look any further than the Tampa Bay Rays.
When it comes to recognizing talent, few do it better than them, and despite their limited payroll very few are as aggressive in trading to fill in any potential weaknesses on their roster.
By using their organizational depth at one position, they were able to add on to a position of opportunity, the rotation.
With Tyler Glasnow out for the season, they had a glaring hole in their rotation that needed to be filled and while youngsters like Luis Patino and Shane McClanahan have filled in admirably, as premier pitching prospects that was expected of them.
They still needed help and have gotten it in the right arm of 26-year-old Drew Rasmussen, acquired in the Adames trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rasmussen was a sixth round pick out of Oregon State back in 2018 for the Brewers. The hard throwing righty made his debut last year and pitched 15 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, posting a 5.87 ERA while striking out 21 batters.
He was off to a better start in 2021 with the Brewers out of the bullpen, but still had an uninspiring 4.24 ERA in 17 innings pitched. After the trade and spending some time with the Durham Bull in triple-A, Rasmussen has not only become a key piece in the Rays pitching staff, but also is making a case to be a permanent starter in the rotation.
After getting blown out by the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday by the score of 8-1, the Rays had dropped four of their last five games. Tuesday Rasmussen took the mound and helped stop the bleeding, pitching five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk in Tampa Bay’s 2-0 victory.
Now making his sixth straight appearance as a starter, Rasmussen has lowered his ERA to 3.00 on the season including his time with the Brewers.
Over those six starts, the righty has allowed just four earned runs and 17 hits, walking five and striking out 18 over 27 innings pitched. His ERA in those contests is 1.33.
In 18 overall appearances with the Rays, eight of which starts, Rasmussen has posted a 2.57 ERA while holding his opponents to an .215 AVG and .561 OPS, striking out 43 total batters in 49 innings pitched.
While he primarily a two-pitch pitcher, that has allowed Rasmussen to go twice through the opponent’s order before turning things over to the ALs best bullpen when it comes to ERA. Rasmussen has just five at bats against hitters he’s facing for the third time in a game this year, recording an out in each of those occurrences. Opponent’s OPS jumps from .448 to .699 when facing him for a second time, so the Rays play the percentages and use him while he is at his most effective.
With Glasnow out for the season, the Rays don’t really have that singular Ace starter but that hasn’t stopped them from owning one of the best pitching staff in the majors. Finding players like Rasmussen and utilizing his strengths like he has is part of the reason they have continued success the way they do.
While Rasmussen isn’t a household name around the league, he is still going to play a key part in the Rays push to make it back to the World Series and if his time with his new team is any indication he seems to be more than game to step up and do his part.