With camp opening this week, we’re going to begin previewing the roster in segments. Today we’ll focus on the potential members of the opening day bullpen. The format is as follows:
Expected 2013 role
A brief breakdown of the player
Spent 2012 in MLB Bullpen.
Expected to be high-leverage reliever.
Perhaps the best relief pitcher in MLB to not register a save in 2012. Emerged as alpha lefty in bullpen. Tweaked arm slot and gained balance, leading to improved fastball control and effectiveness versus right-handed batters. Velocity can make up for mistakes in location. Development of a secondary option still on the table. Could be best reliever in bullpen regardless of role. - Tommy Rancel
Spent most of 2012 in Triple-A regaining arm strength after off-season surgery.
Expected to compete for bullpen spot, but remaining minor league options could factor in to final decision.
Unable to follow up on strong rookie season after undergoing back surgery in off-season. Struggled with velocity early on. Like Joel Peralta, is an undersized, fly-ball pitcher who throws a breaking ball and a splitter. And again like Peralta, splitter must improve if he is going to be successful against left-handed batters. Strong demeanor on mound. - TR
Spent 2012 with the Dodgers
Expected to be a middle reliever
Crusty veteran is in camp on a non-roster deal. Uses a sinker, cutter, and curveball to generate extreme rate of groundballs. Figures to make the club out of camp because of those groundball tendencies and reverse splits. - R.J. Anderson
Spent 2012 in the bullpen
Expected to be one of the club’s two go-to setup men
Old-school reliever making do with a three-pitch combination. Peralta mixes his fastball, splitter, and curveball well and keeps away from bats. Yet he isn’t afraid to challenge batters with the fastball when necessary. Has the bulldog tendencies you love to see in a late-inning reliever. Occasionally prone to the long ball and velocity doesn’t allow for a wide margin of error on fastball location. - R.A.
Split 2012 between Durham and the big-league bullpen
Expected to be the club’s second lefty
Savvy left-hander who improved his fastball command last season. Uses a three-pitch mix. Has solid velocity from the left side. Has shown more utility against right-handed batters than your typical left-handed reliever. – R.A.
Took over as closer in early 2012, held role with vise grip
Will once again close games in 2013
Last winter Rodney came to the Rays with a history of great stuff marred by control problems. This winter Rodney’s only concern is expectations following a historically dominant season. Made mechanical changes on the mound that largely explain the sudden turnaround. With a repeat of 2012 rather unlikely, may have to settle for merely excellent. Overpowers hitters with a fierce fastball, confounds them with a knee-buckling changeup. - Joel Kennedy-Ramos
Spent first half on the disabled list before rejoining the bullpen
Expected to be a key member of 2013 bullpen
Went from shut down “closer” in 2011 to a pitcher being shutdown with elbow inflammation for a good portion of the 2012 season. He remains effective by tossing a variety of fastballs—including his fate-changing cutter—and a knockout slider. - Jason Collette
Dane De La Rosa
Spent a majority of 2012 as the Bulls’ closer
Expected to spend most of the year in Durham after clearing waivers.
De La Rosa combines a big body with a big right arm. Unfortunately, De La Rosa’s largeness carries over to his location problems. He appears to be little more than an up-and-down reliever at this point in his development. - JC
Spent most of 2012 in Triple-A
Expected to compete for a role in the 2013 bullpen
He struck out more batters than innings pitched in Triple-A, but also permitted 102 baserunners in just 68 innings of work in what was his third straight season pitching at the level. Works with a fastball, splitter, and breaking ball. Changed spots on the rubber in-season. In a perfect world, he assumes Farnsworth’s 2013 role next season but there’s work to be done here first. - JC