Rays shut down J.P. Howell for rest of the season
LHP J.P. Howell's season is officiallly over.
The Rays have shut him down for the remaining 10 games of the season, giving Howell - who ranks third in relief innings pitched the past couple seasons - a much-needed break. Howell said fatigue played a factor late in the year, starting in August, and though he said his arm feels physically fine, manager Joe Maddon decided this was the prudent way to go.
"Smart move," Howell said."It's been a long just two years, to be honest. It feels like it never stopped. Here you feel like you can kind of take a breath now and get ready for next year and make a real push, not a modified push like we did this year."
Howell, 26, had a breakout season in 2008 in his first full-year in the bullpen, and served as the Rays unofficial closer for a large part of this year - converting 13 straight saves opportunities in one stretch. But in his past 17 appearances, Howell struggled, going 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA (13 1/3 innings, 13 walks, four homers), raising his ERA from 1.86 to 2.83. Howell last appeared Sunday, picking up his first save since Aug 29.
“Over the last two years he has thrown more relief innings than any pitcher in baseball, and there’s nothing positive to be derived from having him pitch for the next 10 games, so we’ve chosen to shut him down,” Maddon said.
Howell said fatigue started getting to him in August, and it had a negative impact on his mechanics. It had been a long year that started with some work in the World Baseball Classic.
"I felt like it was around August, a few games there where I couldn’t really just get it," Howell said. "It was the first time since I was in the bullpen where it was just tough to control you're body. So it was definitely a unique situation for me, I've never been in that situation. But I learned a lot through that month and half that I was trying to get through that. He told me there's nothing you can really benefit from pitching now, and he saw me kind of coming out of my mechanics a little bit. To be on the safe side, shut it down."
Howell laughed about being ribbed by his teammates quite a bit - a "dartboard," as he calls it.
"I'm on vacation," he said. "A paid vacation."
-- JOE SMITH