The Rays are rolling with a four man rotation, thanks to eight off-days in the first two months of the season. In fact, the Rays will not need a fifth starter until late May, highlighted below.
But in the mean time, someone needs to take the mound on Saturday against the White Sox, and given the non-division nature of the game and no obvious call-up in Durham, the Rays will consider it a bullpen day and call upon last year's fifth starter Erasmo Ramirez.
Erasmo has been a revelation under Jim Hickey, and was only bested by Chris Archer in the second half, statistically speaking, anchoring a rotation that was tossed in the storm of quick hooks and injury concerns.
His transition this season to a bullpen roll has been smooth, but Erasmo has long been the kind of pitcher who is ready to pitch any day and any time the Rays could require. He's a natural choice for the spot-start needed this weekend, even if it becomes a bullpen day.
#Rays make it official - Erasmo starts Saturday— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 15, 2016
It should be made clear, Erasmo has not been "the long man" to date and may not be able to shoulder a full starter's work load. Still, he should be able to turn in a couple innings as the Rays look to climb back up to .500.
Here are the four spot start opportunities upcoming in the Rays rotation:
April 16th vs White Sox
April 23rd at Yankees
May 10th at Mariners
May 17th at Blue Jays
Then on May 24th, seven days later, the season evens out into a standard five-man cadence.
The projected dates are of course pending no hiccups in scheduling, as happened this time around when a rain out delayed Drew Smyly and shifted the April 16th opportunity back a few days. Had the original spot start on April 13th come to fruition we might have seen Matt Andriese promoted.
Instead, Andriese will likely be called up for the Yankees game at the end of the month, and then again at the end of May once a fifth starter is needed.