Rays Reliever Joe Nelson is Durham bound
After last nights game the Tampa Bay Rays optioned Rays reliever Joe Nelson to Triple-A Durham. Considering that Nelson’s errant throw towards Carlos Pena in the top of the ninth inning spawned the Kansas City Royals last run of the night. Nelson was pitching to Royals second baseman Alberto Callaspo and was only behind him 1-0 at the time he put a short hopper down to the right of the mound and Nelson picked the ball up and one-hopped it towards Pena.
Pena made an attempt to smother the ball, but it still wiggled out towards the first base stands and Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist got the ball, but Callaspo had advanced to third base by the time the Rays maintained some sense of order in the play. Zobrist quickly threw the ball to home to secure that the run would not score on the play. But after Mike Jacobs pinch hit for catcher Miguel Olivo and struck out, the Royals still had two out to play with in the contest. Brayan Pena then hit a sacrifice fly to leftfield, and the ball was deep enough for Callaspo to tag up and score without a problem.
But this was just the latest in a series of rough outings for Nelson in the last several weeks. Even though his ERA has shrunk in his last 10 appearances, Nelson has been the victim of some troublesome counts and unexpected wildness lately. In his last 10 outing he has 8 innings of work while surrendering only 5-hits and 2-runs during that span. But his walks-to-strikeout ratio during those 10 appearances is 10/6. A reliever basically lives on his walk-to-strikeout ratio, and this one is leaning a bit towards the wild side of the equation.
One unusual note is that Nelson is a former Royal having pitch for the team in 2006, and went 1-1, with a 4.43 ERA and 9 saves for the team. But the catalyst for tonight’s action might have been started last Saturday when Nelson came in the 12th inning and loaded the bases with one out. He did manage to get out of the inning scoreless and received his 3rd save of the season. His 7 home runs surrendered this season is the third worst mark in the AL for a reliever, but he has only given up 1 HR in his last 19 appearances. Even with his unsteady inning tonight, he did lower his ERA from 4.12 to 4.02 in this game.
Nelson told Marc Topkins of the St. Petersburg Times tonight after he learned of his demotion, “”It isn’t the first time,” Nelson said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back in September, and see what happens. You’re never happy about it, but it’s a business. It’s how the game is. It’s not (manager Joe Maddon’s) fault. Pitch better if you want to stay in the big leagues, that’s all it comes down to.”
The Rays will make a corresponding move in the morning, but I am leaning towards them maybe bringing up ex-Ray Jason Childers, who notched his fifth save of the season for the Bulls tonight against the 2008 Governor’s Cup winner Scraton/Wilkes-Barre. Childers is currently 8-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 42 appearances this year. He also has 7 holds this season and 45 strikeouts.
Another player who could make the grade back towards the Rays could be Dale Thayer, who has been up with the Rays twice so far this season and is 0-4 on the year, but has 14 saves for the Bulls. Thayer recently went back down to Durham after the Rays activated Brian Shouse off of the disabled list at the beginning of this home stand.
We probably will not know the actual player selected to come up to the Rays until about game time tomorrow. Mainly because tomorrow’s game is being broadcast on Fox Television, it will be a 4:10 pm start time and the player will arrive sometime after the game has started on Saturday.
Wednesday Nights game against the Boston Red Sox has been selected by ESPN as one of their broadcast games that night. This will be the second game in 5 days that the Rays will be on National television. Tomorrow’s game is to be broadcast on Fox starting at 4 pm.