The Rays are surprisingly not the basement dwellers in the AL East, with that title belonging to the Baltimore Orioles. However, at 9.5 games behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, it seems like just the right time to call up the young arm they got in the Steven Souza Jr. trade.
According to Marc Topkin, of the Tampa Bay Times, lefty Anthony Banda has been looking solid at Triple-A Durham. In seven starts, he's posted a 3.50 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 16 walks. He's given up just one home run and his ground ball rate (GB%) is also looking fantastic at 42.1%.
It's likely that the Rays have called him up just in time for the double-header on Saturday against Baltimore, but don't rule out his staying if he performs well.
Banda's back and forth
This won't be Banda's first time making a major league appearance. He appeared in eight games last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks but didn't exactly make the strongest impression in that time. Still, the Rays felt he would be a great young pitcher to have in their organization as they attempt to rebuild.
In those eight games last year, Banda posted a swollen 5.96 ERA. However, his FIP was still decent at 3.24. He was originally drafted by the Snakes in 2011 but did not sign, and ended up getting picked up by the Brewers instead, only to once again be sent back to Arizona in the Gerardo Parra trade. Banda was constantly finding himself back in the desert until now, where he'll hopefully become a future mainstay in the Rays rotation.
He's still developing command, but it's been noted in prospect reports he has a plus fastball and an above-average curveball. Banda has all the confidence in the world in himself, which will be crucial going forward. He was previously quoted in the Tampa Bay Times as saying:
"I always pitch with a chip on my shoulder,...Even though it doesn't look like it, I have a chip in my shoulder."
He's happy to have found a home with the Rays and it looks as though he's looking forward to growing with the club just as much as the club is looking forward to Banda being one of those pieces of the future.