The Rays bullpen was already the weakest spot on the team and it just suffered a major blow as the team's closer, Brad Boxberger underwent core muscle surgery yesterday and the timeline for his return is at least eight weeks.
Boxberger entered spring training with the hope of returning to his 2014 form and leaving 2015 behind him, but so far his spring has been rather rough and now that's only compounded by this turn of events. When Jake McGee was traded for Corey Dickerson just about two months ago, Boxberger was expected to keep the closer role, but now the Rays will have do something else while he recovers.
In 2014, Boxberger made the jump from Durham to the majors look easy as he and Jake McGee teamed up to become quite the dominant duo as the 8-9 guys. Boxberger had a ridiculous 42.1 K% over 64 innings in 2014 and held hitters to a .152 batting average against him.
Entering 2015, the Rays were hoping for big things from their new 8-9 team, plus the addition of Kevin Jepsen, however injuries quickly derailed the season and caused the bullpen to be overworked. Boxberger did collect a league leading 41 saves, but he also had six blown saves and 10 losses while his strikeout rate dropped 15 points and his FIP climbed 1.40 points.
The sudden injury could also lead to the Rays parting ways with one of their surplus outfielders or first baseman in order to find a suitable replacement as Boxberger won't return until late May or early June.
#Rays closer Brad Boxberger had surgery yesterday to repair a core muscle. Cash said he will be sidelined about 8 weeks.— Josh Vitale (@JoshVitale) March 18, 2016
#Rays Kevin Cash says a closer will not be named in Boxberger's place, and the role will be filled internally.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) March 18, 2016
#Rays Cash said it was a nagging injury situation with Boxberger, no one thing that happened— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 18, 2016
#Rays Cash said they "won't name a closer" in Boxberger's absence, will close by matchups, mentioned Colome, Cedeno, Webb, Geltz, Farquhar— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 18, 2016