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Rays' Pete Fairbanks Sharp As Ever Since Rocky Start

Tampa Bay Rays' de facto closer Pete Fairbanks slammed the door on the Miami Marlins on Wednesday Night to secure a mini sweep. The Rays as a team are relieved to pick up a few wins. They have struggled to stick around .500 through the first 62 games of the season.

Meanwhile, their longtime reliever has gone from being one of their biggest dilemmas to being a key reason they have stayed afloat.

An Inconsistent Start For the Rays Closer

Fairbanks pitched a scoreless inning in his season debut on March 30 in a 5-1 Rays win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was business as usual until it wasn't. Over his next three outings, he gave up five earned runs - including being responsible for three runs of a walk-off grand slam. Fairbanks pitched three consecutive scoreless outings, picking up two saves, before he blew a save against the Los Angeles Angels on April 17.

Through eight appearances, he had an ERA of 9.00. Half of his outings saw him surrender runs. Fairbanks' inconsistency was a reflection of the team, who won big and lost big early on.

Then, he was bound for the injured list (IL). Well, now we get to see if that was the issue. Plot twist. It was, and the break did him a lot of good.

A Month Of Shutout Baseball

Fairbanks pitched two scoreless innings across two rehab games in Triple-A Durham and has continued that streak since he returned to the Rays' bullpen.

In 11 appearances, he's allowed no earned runs (one unearned run) while striking out 11 and walking just two. Hitters have been held to a .180 opponent's average.

The Rays went from having a Pete Fairbanks problem to having a saving grace among the plethora of pitching issues this season. For what it's worth, he also reflects how the overall improvements coming out of the bullpen (joke intended) as of late. Since May 11, when Fairbanks returned from the IL, four other relievers have pitched at least eight innings and given up two runs or fewer.

The Rays still have a few things to iron out. The offense still has a slash line of .236/.310/.357/.668 and the starting rotation has been injury-prone and has struggled when healthy.

However, seeing an improvement in late-game run prevention is a step in the right direction.



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