|ESPN.com: SweetSpot||[Print without images]|
Rauch is still only utilized in low-leverage situations, and it seems he's worn out his welcome in Arizona. But his ERA dropped from 9.31 in April to 3.46 in May, and he's pitched two scoreless innings so far in June.
Whether the Rays, desperately seeking saves, and Rauch, America's tallest reliever, get together remains to be seen. No smoke here yet, let alone fire, but this seems like a natural connection to make.
Is Rauch the man for the job? Like Balfour and Nelson, he pitched out of his mind last summer. That is, until Arizona traded for him in late July, after which he was awful, arguably costing the Diamondbacks the division title. I know that's a tough thing to pin on a guy, but he went 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA and the D-backs finished two games behind the Dodgers. You do the math.
Rauch got off to a lousy start this year, too. But between last year's lousy finish and this years crummy start, we're talking about 34 innings. Rauch has thrown 366 innings in his career, and you have to balance those 34 terrible innings against sthe other 332 innings, most of which have been pretty good.
As big as he is, Rauch does not throw particularly hard ... but he's throwing just about as hard this year as he's ever thrown. Unless my scouts told me there was something wrong with him, I would be happy to add him to my staff in a set-up role.