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Bullpen has kept the Tampa Bay Rays afloat early in the season

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In the beginning of the season, a large question mark hovered over the bullpen of the Tampa Bay Rays.

More and more, it looks like an exclamation point.

Through 21 games, the bullpen for the Tampa Bay Rays has been excellent. Consider their seven wins. Consider their five saves. Consider the life in the arms.

This was supposed to be a weak position, remember? Jake McGee was traded, and Brad Boxberger was hurt, and no one was quite sure how the bullpen would cope.

But the guys who have gotten most of the important work: Enny Romero, Erasmo Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome, have been superb. Consider this: Cedeno has an ERA of 1.50. Ramirez has one of 1.40. Colome is at 1.08. Romero is at 1.04. Ramirez has four wins. Colome is a perfect five-for-five in saves.

Cedeno has a WHIP (walks and hits to innings pitched) of 1.17, and that’s the high mark. The other three are all under 1.00. In 42.1 innings this year, the quartet has given up only 25 hits and only six earned runs. They have combined for 36 strikeouts and only seven walks.

That kind of performance will pay off for the Rays once the hitting gets more timely and the starts get more efficient. So far, however, it’s a success.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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