September is one of the most exciting times to be a fan of major league baseball. There are tons of different angles and stories in place and you never quite know what to expect, as the Rays have had plenty of significant happenings in this, the final month of the season.
At midnight, last night, following the conclusions of any games already in progress, each team from around the league was allowed to stretch their limited 25-man roster to an outrageous 40-man roster. When Joe Maddon was here, each boxscore would often look like spring training, as you'd see that almost every player at some point had been subbed, pinch-hit, pinch-ran, or replaced in some other fashion. The Rays have already announced six players who are on their way up to the majors.
Among the players featured in years past were the unexpected Freddy Guzman, who hadn't seen major league action in years but who made a crucial pinch running appearance in the Rays 2013 stretch, and Enny Romero, who made a much-needed spot-start a day after the Rays played an 18 inning affair.
The 40-man roster allowed the Rays to keep Dan Johnson on the bench so he could be used as a pinch hitter during game 162 in 2011, allowing him to have one of the Rays all-time best moments. Just typing that gave me the feels, so here's a video so you can take part as well.
Obviously, September callups are a huge deal, so without further ado, here are the six players that'll be joining the Rays later today.
Richie Shaffer - 1B/3B/OF
Shaffer became a fan favorite this season after putting on an incredible display of power early on in the year with Montgomery and Durham. In fact, in his Durham debut, he clubbed two homers. Just a week later, he upped the ante by drilling three in one game. Shaffer would also put on a show during the Futures' Game BP hitting multiple shots in the upper deck at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and nearly had a multi-HR day during the game, sending a couple of fly balls to the warning track.
Shaffer finally received the call that many were hoping for August, but would be used sparingly, much to the ire of the blue seat faithful. However, during his time in the majors, Shaffer did club two homers, the first of which featured an excellent celebration, and the latter turned out to be a game winner, making him even more of a fan favorite.
Mikie Mahtook - OF
Mahtook finally became the first player from the Rays historic 2011 draft class to reach the majors as he was promoted back in April after the team sent John Jaso to the disabled list. Mahtook was mainly used as a defensive replacement. He was sent back to Durham within a few weeks, and he's bounced up to Tampa Bay a few times throughout the season, but only for short stints.
Luke Maile - C
Perhaps the most surprising call-up, this one actually makes a lot of sense. Luke Maile has served as the Bulls main catcher for the majority of the season. He was drafted back 2012, so when he makes his debut, he'll be the Rays'
first second pick from that draft to have appeared in the majors. He doesn't provide a lot in terms of offense, but with J.P. Arencibia and Rene Rivera being the only catchers on the Rays roster, they need someone else who can give quality time behind the plate. Maile is just in the right situation at the right time.
Kirby Yates - RHP
After dominating triple-A in 2014 and having some success at the major league level, Yates was expected to serve as a solid piece in the Rays 'pen this year. However, poor results along with an injury have hampered him throughout 2015.
Matt Moore - LHP
Moore's return in early July generated a ton of excitement -- for about an inning. Then fans realized it would be a long road for Moore to return to return to the pitcher he once was (if he ever makes it). However, while with Durham he has shown flashes of greatness, punctuated by his 16 strikeout performance in only six innings in a start just over a week ago.
C.J. Riefenhauser - LHP
Riefenahuser was another arm that was supposed to help at the major league level for the majority of the season, but he, like Yates, has dealt with poor results as well as an injury that has hampered him throughout the season.