Niemann's second complete game win wasn't as impressive as the first one, but it was still very good. His breaking ball was working well for him, and aside from the 9th inning he stayed out of trouble for the most part.
So we're looking at a second half with Niemann and Price being the 2009 version of Sonny and Edwin last year. Block out Edwin Jackson's performance for the Tigers this year, and you would think the 2009 back part of the rotation would give you more than the 2008 version.
I know Price has had his struggles this year, but it is ridiculous to expect a guy who is basically a rookie starting pitcher to come in and dominate. I heard Duemig talking about how important these innings are to Price's future when I was in St Pete a couple weeks ago. The payoff long term will be huge, and if the rest of the rotation gets it's act together this doesn't have to come at the expense of the team. Check out the number from Sandy Koufax early in his career. When he was 23, as Price is this year, the Dodgers kept running him out there to start games, and the payoff was very big, albeit short lived (I don't wish retirement at the age of 30 on David Price by any means). During Bill Simmons podcast with Jack-O he meandered down the path of saying David Price is better off in the closers role. It's just way too early in his career to be making statements like that. The guy had one career start before this season. I think the Rays are doing the right thing. I know he has had his struggles this year, but outing like he had against Toronto are a clear indicator that he's on the right track. The Rays are really fast tracking him compared to Jeff Niemann. They each got their first call up to the bigs last year, but Niemann is three years older than Price. Both guys are first round picks out of college, both were aces on their respective staffs in college, and both guys had significant mileage on their arms when drafted which seems to be pretty common amongst starting pitchers from the college ranks. I think the Rays definitely did the right thing with Niemann, especially considering what Chicago did with Mark Prior (drafting him in 2001, and starting him 19 times the following season). I just hope that they've given Price the rest he needed after his run at Vandy
One more thing on the game last night; Longoria's timely home run. In the bottom of the 6th, the Rays have CC at 1st and BJ at 3rd with two outs and Longo at the plate. Crawford gets tied up between 1st and 2nd on a pick-off move to first, BJ breaks for home plate and gets thrown out on his attempt to score ending the inning. I immediately text Jon expressing my understanding of the attempt to score because Longoria has been an automatic out since he pulled his hamstring. Normally you wouldn't want guys on the basepaths ending an inning like that with an All Star at the plate. Of course, when Longoria resumes is AB at the bottom of the 7th he promptly hits a solo home run to left field, once again making me look like an idiot. Even in hindsight though I'll take mistakes on the basepaths like that once in a while, because more often than not the results are going in our favor this year. Upton especially has been manufacturing runs on his own lately. Just this week against the Blue Jays he reached base, was aggressive on the base paths and ended up scoring by stealing home. Plus, it is chaotic for opposing pitchers when either or both of those guys are on base. One thing I will say about Crawford, is it seems like he has been getting hung up between bases a lot since his streak of consecutive steals to start the season was snapped. I have no problem with this because he's freaking Carl Crawford, but it's worth pointing out (a very small price to pay I might add).