Rays Manager Joe Maddon announced this morning that the competition for the 5th starter spot in the rotation would go to the young righty Davis over the slightly older right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.
Davis the Entire Time
It seemed a foregone conclusion heading into the season that the Rays would go with Davis instead of Sonnanstine or a free agent to be named later. His salary is more affordable for the Rays than a free agent and he has had much more recent success than the incumbent Sonnastine.
While Davis put up 4 quality starts out of 6 in 2009, Sonnanstine spend much of last season at AAA Durham working on his delivery–and failing at making that delivery more effective as he struggled before settling his ERA down to a manageable 4.40.
Decision NOT Supported by Spring’s Stats
This spring, however, both pitchers had their share of ups and downs. Sonnanstine started out poorly before putting together an 8-inning scoreless streak. That streak made him the favorite to take the final spot in the rotation, as did his 2.00 ERA in 9 innings pitched. And Davis did little to elevate himself about “Sonny” as he put up a 1-1 record in 9.2 innings and a 10.24 ERA.
However, Sonnanstine’s limited experience in the bullpen–compared to Davis’ zero experience in the bullpen–made him a more likely choice to leave the rotation. Sonnanstine made it clear following the announcement at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte that he was disappointed not to be a member of the rotation at the start of 2010. He told reporters that he was a starter at heart.
Sonny a True Pro
What was more memorable about Sonnanstine’s reaction today was that while his disappointment was palpable, he reiterated that he is a “team guy” and will work hard to make the Rays successful from the bullpen.
Davis has some success last season that led to a 2-2 record and 3.72 ERA and several double digit strike out games. Clearly, that potential helped Maddon make his final decision.
So, the rotation is set. It will look more than likely look like this heading into Opening Day:
This will certainly be one of the younger staffs the Rays have ever put together and will easily be one of the youngest–and most talented–in the majors.