The Tampa Bay Rays have done an impressive job of finding relievers on the scrap heap. Those unheralded arms have turned into unexpected assets, as the Rays have been able to create an assembly line of pitchers. However, there is still a need for those truly dominant relievers, those pitchers who can step in and shut down the opposition seemingly with ease.
That is what the Rays felt they had with Nick Anderson. The issue is that Anderson has not been healthy since 2019. Those health issues have continued into this offseason, as he has undergone elbow surgery and will be out until after the 2022 All Star Break.
Tampa Bay Rays lose Nick Anderson once again
Anderson has struggled to remain healthy during his time with the Rays. He had missed time in 2020 due to forearm inflammation, and was lost for the majority of the 2021 season due to a partial ligament tear in spring training.
While Anderson did return at the end of the year, he was not nearly the dominant reliever he had been. He allowed three runs on four hits, including two homers, and two walks over his six innings, striking out just one batter. As he had been known for his excellent strikeout and walk numbers, that performance was quite the disappointment.
It was also quite the departure from what Anderson has been with the Rays. He has posted a 1.85 ERA and a 0.641 WHiP in his 43.2 innings in Tampa Bay, striking out 68 batters with seven walks. Even for a team that rotates through closers, Anderson appeared destined to take the ninth inning for his own.
Instead, the Rays will need to cobble the ninth inning together as they typically have done. It is entirely possible that Anderson takes over that role by the end of the year if he can be the same pitcher he was once he returns from surgery. But he will need to prove himself once again before that happens.
The Tampa Bay Rays have lost Nick Anderson once again. Their ability to churn out relievers will be tested once more in 2022.