You won’t get much out of Wade Davis. In fact, he took the lineup card out to the umpires before Sunday’s game and didn’t say one word. Not that the Tampa Bay Rays rookie right-hander is shy; he’s just the strong, silent type. Clint Eastwood with a fastball.
Same with Jeff Niemann and David Price, the other two rookies on the Rays’ staff. Both are quiet, though not as painfully quiet as Davis. Compared to Davis, Niemann and Price are as chatty as Rays part-time TV commentator Brian Anderson.
Post-game interviews will be interesting in seasons to come when these three form the nucleus of the Rays rotation, because that is where this is heading.
Out of the ashes of the ill-fated title defense rises the makings of a pretty good rotation: James Shields, Matt Garza, Niemann, Price and Davis, and not necessarily in that order.
Niemann has proved this season he was more than ready to pitch at the major league level. Price had a major growth spurt in Sunday’s victory against Toronto when he realized his fastball wouldn’t get the job done and broke out his curveball. It’s one thing to throw hard, it’s another to pitch. Price showed Sunday he can be a pitcher.
Davis has made just three major league starts. He was dominant in two and hittable in the other, which came against Boston at Fenway Park.
Rays manager Joe Maddon kept the rotation in order so Davis, who starts Wednesday, gets three more turns this season.
“His first salvo tells me he’s ready,” Maddon said.
It’s not a stretch to think the Rays will finish the season with a better rotation than they started with, now that Scott Kazmir is in Anaheim and Andy Sonnanstine is banished to the bullpen.
“It’s nice to see them going, because they are the future of the rotation,” Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said after Sunday’s win against the Blue Jays.
Niemann and Davis reached the major leagues the old fashioned way — they let the organization know when they were ready. Niemann made 71 starts and pitched 372 innings across four minor league seasons. Davis pitched 465 2/3 innings in 82 starts during his five-year minor league apprenticeship.
Price, the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, was rushed somewhat to the bigs but proved he can handle the big moments against the Red Sox during last year’s American League Championship Season. If he can master the little moments, Price will be everything we expect.
“What these guys are doing in such a short amount of time speaks well for our future,” Maddon said.
Maddon isn’t sure how these five will line up next season, but he is certain about this: “Pick any three for a three-game series, and the other side is not going to be comfortable with it.”
The kids have the potential to prove their manager right.