The Rays have named their starting rotation for the coming season, with an eye on match-ups as opposed to a straight ranking of talent and ability.
With Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, and Alex Colome out of the rotation, the team traded for Erasmo Ramirez and secured Nate Karns to take on starting rolls as players return from injury, and this morning set the front three:
Nathan Karns will start game two, Jake Odorizzi game three. Kevin Cash says it's about match ups during first few series.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) April 2, 2015
With Erasmo Ramirez considered "likely" to be in the Rays rotation, but currently yet to arrive in Rays camp, it's hard to say where he slots. If anything, he could be named the "fourth starter" but if so, that forth starter only needs to pitch two turns in the rotation: April 10 vs Miami, and April 15 vs Toronto. By that point, Erasmo would likely move into a long man role from the bullpen.
Smyly is the first expected back mid-April, already throwing in his rehab from shoulder tendinitis (his first live BP session was yesterday, and has another scheduled Saturday), followed by Alex Cobb who is farther behind in his return from forearm tendinitis. Both could be back in form by the end of April.
Here's what the rotation looks like with Karns and Odorizzi going 2-3 in the order:
|APRIL||OPPONENT||TIME (ET)||TB PITCHER||OPP. PITCHER|
|Baltimore||3:10 PM||Chris Archer||Tillman|
|Baltimore||7:10 PM||Nate Karns||Chen|
|Baltimore||7:10 PM||Jake Odorizzi||Gonzalez|
|Thu, Apr 9||Off Day|
|@ Miami||7:10 PM||"4th starter"||Haren|
|@ Miami||4:10 PM||Chris Archer||Cosart|
|@ Miami||1:10 PM||Nate Karns||Alvarez|
|@ Toronto||7:07 PM||Jake Odorizzi||Dickey|
|@ Toronto||7:07 PM||X||Norris|
|@ Toronto||7:07 PM||"4th starter"||Buehrle|
|@ Toronto||7:07 PM||Chris Archer||Sanchez|
|NY Yankees||7:10 PM||Nate Karns||Warren|
|NY Yankees||7:10 PM||Jake Odorizzi||Tanaka|
|NY Yankees||1:10 PM||X||Pineda|
|Mon, Apr 20||Off Day|
|Boston||7:10 PM||Chris Archer||Buchholz|
|Boston||7:10 PM||Nate Karns||Porcello|
|Boston||7:10 PM||Jake Odorizzi||Masterson|
|Toronto||1:10 PM||Chris Archer||Sanchez|
|@ NY Yankees||7:05 PM||Nate Karns||Warren|
|@ NY Yankees||7:05 PM||Jake Odorizzi||Tanaka|
|@ NY Yankees||1:05 PM||X||Pineda|
All three of the place holders in bold could be call-ups or men out of the bullpen taking on a heavy load, but if rehabilitation schedules go according to plan, none should be a mystery.
The X in the rotation is likely Drew Smyly, as his next live batting practice session on Saturday will put him on four day's rest. Two rehab starts of 75-pitches, and he could be back in the mix for that April 14th slot.
The Y marker can be your first placeholder for Alex Cobb or another call up if he is not ready, like the rehabbing Alex Colome.
Colome will need to gain back physical form before his promotion, he was sidelined by pneumonia which required a week of hospitalization, and lost some weight. He should be on the Rays roster as he's out of options but I'd imagine his return will be to the bullpen to capitalize on his electric stuff.
If Cobb is ready to return even earlier, it's possible the Rays drop Nate Karns from his role, but that is less likely. If the Rays do make that shuffle, look toward April 22nd as being the start Cobb might step in.
The opposing pitchers listed above are just guesses on my part, but they paint an interesting picture. The Rays have their work cut out for themselves.