So, I post about how the season isn't lost, and the Rays promptly lose eight games in a row.
Lets look at starting pitching in that period
Sep 3 - Price 5.1 IP 4 ER (I believe he left the game when it was a tie ball game)
Sep 4 - Niemann 7.2 IP 1 ER (duel with Verlander, no decision)
Sep 5 - Shields 6.1 IP 6 ER (no decision, Rays put up 6 runs)
Sep 6 - Davis 7 IP 1 ER (no decision, blown save by the pen, Jackson gets the W)
Sep 7 - Garza 7 IP 0 ER (no decision, duel with Sabathia)
Sep 7 - Sonny 2.2 IP 8 ER
Sep 8 - Price 6 IP 2 ER
Sep 9 - Niemann 7 IP 1 ER
Of these 8 losses, starting pitching gave us the opportunity to win 6 of these games. If there is a silver lining to any of this, that would be it. I know it is way too soon to get excited about Wade Davis, but hey, nice MLB debut there for him. If we go into next year with a Shields/Garza/Niemann/Price/Davis rotation, that gives us a solid 5 man rotation that you could argue gives you a chance to win any given night regardless of the opponent. Garza did not meet expectations this year coming off his 2008 post-season but he seems like a prime candidate for a bounce back season next year in that regard. Shields just needs to keep his cool and hope for better run support next year. That ERA of his isn't indicative of the number of quality starts he put up this year that didn't yield wins because of poor run support or blown leads from the bullpen. Many of the media outlets covering the Rays have done some "what went wrong" pieces over the last week, and chief among the reasons were 1) unexpected dip in fielding, 2)Bullpen troubles, 3) Lack of production at the plate in situations that killed late inning rallies. That's the difference. But when you lose 8 games in a row to start September it is worth noting that starting pitching did come to play in 6 of those games. One of the two poor starts came from Sonnanstine who really shouldn't be occupying a starting rotation spot in the future.
Offseason personnel decision should be interesting. Particularly with the bullpen. A month ago there was probably consideration being given to JP Howell as full time closer, but you have to think that if they were considering that as an option, it is now being reconsidered. Speaking of reconsidering, how long before Grant Balfour isn't on the team? I could be wrong, but this guy doesn't seem to do well with inherited runners. I guess that could be said for a lot of the bullpen guys lately though.