Ex-Rays vision of playoffs: The remix
With the Giants ousting the Mets (who had three former Rays in their starting lineup) on Wednesday, and the Blue Jays (who have four total) eliminating the Orioles, here is an update of our ex-Rays factor heading into the Division Series round of the playoffs. That starts today, with Blue Jays at Rangers and Red Sox at Indians:
Players: RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Mike Montgomery, 2B Ben Zobrist
Staff: Manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Chris Bosio, assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, bench coach Dave Martinez
Baseline: Zobrist is by far most relevant player of the group, but so much about the Cubs stems from Maddon's personality and his way of doing things, which, with Martinez at his side, kind of makes them an updated and improved model of those Rays teams from back in the day when made the playoffs, like 2008-13.
Players: LHP J.P. Howell, LHP Scott Kazmir, OF Andrew Toles
Staff: Baseball operations president Andrew Friedman, 1B coach George Lombard
Baseline: Friedman has taken some heat since taking over before the 2015 season, but they've made the playoffs twice. When healthy, Kazmir is a key part of rotation. Howell is one of their top lefty relievers. Toles, released from Rays minor-league system, has been a surprise contributor. (LHP Adam Liberatore was a key contributor during the season but is out for the playoffs due to elbow surgery.)
3. Blue Jays
Players: RF Jose Bautista, RHP Joaquin Benoit, C Dioner Navarro, OF Melvin (B.J.) Upton.
Baseline: Bautista, briefly a Devil Ray in 2004, is a cornerstone in the Toronto lineup. In-season pickups Upton (who has been playing left), Navarro (backup to Russell Martin) and Benoit (who is sidelined temporarily after hurting his leg running out of the bullpen) have all been helpful pieces.
4. Red Sox
Players: C Ryan Hanigan, LHP David Price
Baseline: After a slow start in Boston, Price is living up to his ace status and $217-million contract, though he took some heat for faltering in potential clincher. Hanigan has had injury issues, as he did with Rays, but does some good behind plate.
Players: C Chris Gimenez, OF Brandon Guyer
Staff: Pitching coach Mickey Callaway, assistant hitting coach Matt Quartraro
Baseline: Guyer has been a hit, in several ways, since being acquired from Rays for two minor-leaguers, with a .333 average and .907 OPS. Gimenez is a capable backup.
Players: LHP Matt Moore, RHP Alberto Suarez
Baseline: Moore is 6-5, 4.08 in 12 starts since his Aug. 1 trade for the package headlined by Matt Duffy, including a near no-hitter on Aug. 25 and a dominant outoing in Game 162 to help clinch the wild-card spot. Suarez, a longtime Rays minor-leaguer, has pitched in as a starter and reliever.
Players: RHP Matt Bush, C Robinson Chirinos
Baseline: Bush, who was in camp with the Rays when he was arrested after a DUI accident in March 2012, has been a huge surprise as a key part of Rangers bullpen, going 7-2, 2.48 in 58 appearances. Chirinos, when healthy, has been a solid backup after being ditched by the Rays in April 2013.
Player: C Jose Lobaton
Baseline: Lobaton has been a capable backup since being acquired in the spring 2014 deal for Nathan Karns, but will have an increased role given the injury to Nats starter Wilson Ramos. INF Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross were only briefly Rays property after being acquired from San Diego in the Wil Myers deal and shipped to Washington for Steven Souza Jr., but they will play key roles and may be future stars.