Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays sticking with J.P. Howell as closer despite recent blips

DETROIT — LHP J.P. Howell has blown his past two save chances, but the Rays aren't going to blow up their plans to have him handle the most crucial situations.

"When you lose in walkoff fashion, people tend to reflect a lot more on that one game than on the entire body of work," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "J.P. has been an integral part of our success this season, and there is no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't be in the position we are without him.

"We have a lot of confidence in him and are confident that he's going to continue to help us win big games down the stretch."

Howell had converted 13 consecutive saves before blowing one in the ninth Saturday against Texas, though he did take a loss when he allowed a walkoff homer Aug. 7 in Seattle. He allowed a tying homer Wednesday with one out in the ninth, walked the bases loaded and threw a wild pitch that allowed the winning run to score.

"It's just unfortunate, because J.P. has been so great for us all year," manager Joe Maddon said.

Overall, Howell has converted 15 saves and blown an American League-high seven. He has allowed homers in four of his past seven appearances.

Over 2008-09, he has thrown the most relief innings (150) in the majors.

ON THE MATT: As RHP James Shields was preparing to address the media after Tuesday's game, Matt Garza came over to deliver mock congratulations for reaching eight wins, and they shared a laugh.

For both, it has been that kind of season, pitching better than their records reflect. And when Garza starts tonight, seeking his eighth win, he will do so with an altered approach.

"If the wins come, they come. If they don't, they don't," said Garza, 7-8 despite a respectable 3.74 ERA. "As long as at the end of the day we have a W in the right column, it really doesn't bother me anymore.

"I went through a phase this year where I wanted to win so bad it just sort of got me away from being me. Now I'm at the point where if they come, great. But it's just a number. As long as we get the bigger numbers at the end of the year and we get to October, that's all I'm worried about."

WEB GEM: Triple-A Durham OF Jon Weber was hoping for a September callup after a tremendous season for the Bulls — .303, 44 doubles, 14 homers, 65 RBIs going into play Thursday. He will have to settle for a trip to Europe, selected, along with Durham RHP Jason Childers, for the U.S. team that will play in the World Cup tournament Sept. 9-27. Also chosen was Northside Christian/St. Petersburg College product RHP Todd Redmond, who is with the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett team.

MISCELLANY: LF Carl Crawford, out since Monday with a stiff back, is expected to rejoin the lineup tonight or Saturday. … 2B Akinori Iwamura was in the lineup Thursday for Durham, continuing his rehab in advance of Tuesday's expected activation.

Tampa Bay Rays sticking with J.P. Howell as closer despite recent blips 08/27/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the warm response from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute were proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings, allowing 15 hits and 11 runs while lasting just seven innings total.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Oleg Sosunov, competing in the Lightning’s preseason opener, is a 6-foot-8 defense-man whom Phil Esposito jokes can reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494