When the Rays entered the season with four major league ready starting pitcher prospects (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Torres, Alex Colome), most scoffed that the Rays would find a place for them all, but as last season showed when almost 30 players hit the Disabled List at one time or another, injuries happen.
This week, you will see all four.
After a carousel of players promoted and demoted for spot starts, the injury to David Price's left forearm gave way to Chris Archer's present rise to the majors. Price's schedule was escalated after some incredible bullpen sessions, but the soreness returned after a simulated game this weekend. Instead of pitching at Class A Port Charlotte on Tuesday, Price will throw another bullpen session tomorrow or Wednesday to assess his current condition.
Continuing to pitch in Price's stead, Archer will take the mound for the first part of a double header in Boston on Tuesday. To keep their starters on a proper level of rest, the Rays will exercise the 26th-man option for a double header and re-call Jake Odorizzi, who was optioned back to Durham on Thursday to activate Alex Cobb from the bereavement list, who was returning from a funeral.
The Odor has pitched two starts for the Rays this season, without recording a win or a loss and sporting an ugly ERA that had more to do with small sample sizes and a rough outing in Miami than poor performance. His first start featured a 1.26 FIP, the second a 7.56. The truth is somewhere in between.
Odorizzi was recalled last week to give the Rays bullpen rest after the 14 inning showdown against Boston on Monday, and Cobb's bereavement was the corresponding move then as well. He made one appearance on Thursday, throwing 3.1 innings with four strikeouts and two walks against the Royals. Consequently, his turn in the double header will actually keep him on normal rest.
Recovering from that unfortunately struck line drive, Alex Cobb was placed on the 7-Day concussion disabled list this week. He was released from the hospital in less than 24 hours after he slept well and woke with only a minor headache with all tests clear, by all reports. The diagnosis was a mild concussion with a cut right ear, which is astonishing in its own right.
Replacing Cobb in the lineup on Friday in New York will be Alex Colome, whose groundball tendancies should play well in Yankee Stadium. He had a very different rookie performance against Miami, his major league debut, where he struck out seven batters and earned whiffs on 14 of his 33 change ups over 5.2 innings (en route to a 1.65 FIP with no earned runs and two walks). Colome has not officially been recalled, giving Josh Lueke more time to help rest the Rays bullpen until Friday.
Archer will then start the rotation over on Sunday, the fourth rookie in seven starts, closing the most important seven games the Rays have faced this season.
With these considerations in mind, here is the projected starters for the all important AL East road trip:
Tuesday - Chris Archer vs Alfredo Aceves (1:05), Jake Odorizzi vs Felix Doubront (7:10)
Wednesday - Jeremy Hellickson vs Ryan Dempster (7:10)
Thursday - Matt Moore vs Andy Pettitte (7:05)
Friday - Roberto Hernandez vs David Phelps (7:05)
Saturday - Alex Colome vs CC Sabathia (1:05)
Sunday - Chris Archer vs Phil Hughes (2:05)
Meanwhile, Alex Torres will continue to dominate out of the bullpen. In 16 innings over eight appearances of varying length, Torres has struck out 23 batters, left every single man on base he was asked to hold, worked a 57% ground ball rate, and walked only three.
UPDATE: Monday, 12:30 PM
Boston has flipped Tuesday's starters, moving Crazy Eyes Aceves to the 1:05 match up against Archer.
You have to wonder if Boston took a player-level perspective for moving Aceves to the early afternoon. The Red Sox probably feel like Aceves dominated the Rays in his last outing at Tropicana Field - a four hit, one run performance over six innings - and he's probably the most intimidating pitcher in the AL East since Rafael "MFIKY" Soriano was the Rays closer in 2010. If you're Boston, who better to intimidate/throw at Myers?
On the bright side, Aceves as a starter has been horrid, from a pure pitching standpoint. His best FIP as a starter this season has been 5.86 on April 11th. He averages 5.0 innings per game as a starter, and has yet to strike out more than four batters in any of those outings, walking 22%. He might be crazy, but he's not crazy good.
UPDATE: Tuesday, 11:00 AM
In spite of pitching short starts in his last two outings, both less than fifty pitches, it looks like Colome will start on a normal five day's rest on Saturday, putting him up against CC Sabathia.