This is the first of our three-day series looking at the nine most pressing issues surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays heading into spring training, which begins Wednesday.
Replacing James Shields
The workhorse of the pitching staff is now a member of the Kansas City Royals, taking with him his intense work ethic, leadership skills and more than 200 innings a season.
Shields pitched 227 2/3 innings in 2012. He pitched less than 215 innings once since becoming a fulltime starter and that was 203 1/3 in 2010.
Who picks up the slack?
"Simply put they all are," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Every one of those guys is capable of pitching more than they did last year."
David Price pitched 211 innings last season on the way to a 20-victory, Cy Young Award-winning campaign. Next highest was 177 1/3 innings from Matt Moore and 177 from Jeremy Hellickson.
One of the keys to the Rays success is the amount of innings turned in by the starting pitchers. That reduces the workload of the bullpen, which normally leads to a productive bullpen.
Maddon thinks Moore and Hellickson can reach the 200-inning plateau this season and he anticipates more innings from the back-end of the rotation.
"I think we have it," he said.
Offseason issues facing Tampa Bay Rays: Part 1 of 3
Tampa Tribune | Feb 10