Cause-and-effect logic has suggested that the relief corps has been overworked due to the team's starters not going as deep into the games as they normally do, and thus, the relievers have not performed as well as they are capable of pitching.
No doubt, there is a modicum of truth to the theory, but Tampa Bay's relievers think they must shoulder their part of the blame, too.
"We want to do better," said J.P. Howell, who has a 7.71 ERA. "We know we have to do better."
Starter Matt Moore went 6 1/3 innings in Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Red Sox, which offered some relief to the bullpen after the three previous games in which the starters had pitched just 13 innings.
Even if the relievers are running on fumes due to the short outings by the starters, the bullpen's results have not been good, particularly in the eighth inning. The Rays have been outscored 18-0 in the eighth inning this season, with all 18 runs coming on the current road trip. In addition, entering Monday's game, Tampa Bay has allowed 28 runs in the seventh inning or later, which ranked as the most in the Major Leagues.
"We shouldn't be that way," Joel Peralta said. "We should be able to do a better job than we have done until now."
Peralta is off to a slow start and is trying to find his groove. A part of him feels like he would be sharper if he had played winter baseball, which he did not this offseason, but he accepted responsibility for his results. Entering Monday's game against the Red Sox, Peralta had a 27.00 ERA after five appearances.
"It's my fault and I should be ready," Peralta said. "I'm not here to get better. I'm here to do a job. I hope I get better now. At least yesterday I went out there and did better, but I should be better by now."
Burke Badenhop has a 6.75 ERA in five appearances this season. He wasn't pointing any fingers at the team's starters, either.
"We should still be getting it done -- especially the last couple, we've kind of let it get away," Badenhop said. "Everything's not going to be perfectly set up, six, seven, eight and nine all the time. It's going to differ from time to time."