58 games have come to pass, and despite the sheer number of injuries − both small and large − the Rays are still, somehow, a relevant team.
Some guy who used to manage the team coined the phrase, "pitching and defense are in our DNA." Although that guy is now in some baseball panacea far north of the Tampa Bay area, that phrase holds true. For example, take their most recent 10-game jaunt that took the team through Baltimore, Anaheim, and Seattle.
The Rays ended the road-trip with a 7-3 record, although they averaged a whopping 3.5 runs per game (35 runs total). Why? Because the pitching staff allowed an average of 2.4 runs per game (24 runs total). All this with the presumable big three − Alex Cobb, Matt Moore and Drew Smyly − on the disabled list.
Unfortunately for the Rays, now it’s looking like Jake Odorizzi could be added to the DL.
Jake Odorizzi's Oblique
Odorizzi left Friday's game after 4-1/3 innings with an oblique tightness. While he has not officially been ruled out for his next start, it seems likely that he will miss some time in the very least. More bad news for a team that’s been ravaged by injuries.
If you were to ask Rays’ beat writer Marc Topkin, he’d probably tell you that the question isn’t whether Jake Odorizzi will be placed on the DL, rather the question is for how long. Even though an official decision hasn’t been made, Rays manager Kevin Cash said it was "fair to say" Odorizzi would miss some time.
I wouldn't say a lengthy period of time, but he's sore, Cash said. We have to be smart with him. The last thing we want to do is get him out there and test it, and then something more or worse happens.
Odorizzi remained optimistic, based on how he felt waking up Saturday:
It was no worse than Friday, he said. I was able to move around and turn around and do all that stuff. I wasn't locked up or anything like that, so that's a good sign.
He allowed, however, that he won't know for sure until he tries to throw, which won't happen until after he sees team orthopedist Koco Eaton on Monday.
Who will take Odorizzi's spot in the rotation if the prognosis dictates an addition to the DL?
Assuming Odorizzi is out, the off-day Monday gives the Rays some time to adjust their rotation. Nathan Karns and Erasmo Ramirez will make their planned starts on Tuesday and Wednesday (respectively) against the Angels.
Tampa Bay could bring Alex Colome back on regular rest on Thursday − Odorizzi’s next scheduled start − or call up a starter from Triple-A Durham, with Matt Andriese or break-through longman Andrew Bellatti being the most likely candidates. Who gets promoted and when will be complicated, however, based on how long an Odorizzi replacement would be needed.
If you're looking for a wild card, Dylan Floro is an interesting (albeit unlikely) option due to the fact that he is not currently on the 40-man roster. The designation of Ernesto Frieri should open a slot, but the Rays may want to keep that open for future plans. An addition to the DL would open up a spot on the front end so to speak, but things could get complicated. With the Rays contending, they may want as many roster slots available as possible as we near the trade deadline.
Whatever the case, it is incumbent upon the other starters to pitch deeper into games, regardless of the situation.
Alex Colome has now strung together back-to-back six inning affairs after working past the sixth only once this season (May 11 against the Yankees). Erasmo Ramirez has thrown six plus innings twice, and Nathan Karns has done the same four times this season, yet not with consistency. Then again, perhaps it’s time for Cash to take off the reins and allow the above mentioned three to pitch deeper into games.
Better yet, they could pitch deeper and Odorizzi can avoid a stint on the DL altogether. I like that option best.
If Odorizzi is destined for the DL, however, here's an updated depth chart for the Rays rotation. Avert your eyes if you're squeamish.
− Chris Archer fanned 38 and walked none in his last three starts. That's now three consecutive games with double digit strikeouts and no walks − a major league history making feat. His 11 strikeouts Sunday gave King Chris the most K’s (108) in the American League; one more than Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians. The closest competitor to that duo is Felix Hernandez with 81.
− Speaking of Archer, he and Steve Geltz generated some interesting dialogue thanks to their stance on fluoride. Called fluoride truthers by Vice Sports, I’d still rather hear these two espouse something that really doesn’t amount to much in the scheme of things, over former Ray (and ultimate reactionary loudmouth) Luke Scott, who babbled about the inanities of life to put it politely.
− Craig Edwards (FanGraphs) wrote an incredibly interesting piece on Major League Baseball’s perception problem as it relates to attendance. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to explain why this article is pertinent to the Rays.