The Tampa Bay Rays are in desperate need of pitching reinforcements, whether it comes to the bullpen or the starting rotation. Yesterday night, Alex Colome was called upon for the fourth time in four games to try and close out another close contest, he came through, but he may now not be available for the rest of the series against the Diamondbacks. Colome is now 16-for-16 in save opportunities.
Normally in Colome's absence the Rays would call upon Erasmo Ramirez should tonight's match be close, but he threw in three of the four games aginast Minnesota, totaling 34 pitches in the final day alone. The Rays are at risk of taxing Erasmo, if they haven't done so already.
So, now it's likely the Rays will be without their two most bullpen dependable arms for the rest of a crucial series that may have huge implications for the Rays season aspirations.
That leaves the Rays with Ryan Garton, Enny Romero, Xavier Cedeno, Tyler Sturdevent, and Dana Eveland for likely the last two games in Arizona, with Cedeno being questionable heading into tonight's game. He pitched last night only because the Rays needed him after Romero and Sturdevent failed to come through.
We knew heading into the season that the Rays bullpen would be a weak spot and that was before Brad Boxberger went down with his injuries. The bullpen was supposed to be the weak underbelly of a team that should have had solid starting pitching and a potent offense. During the first month of the season, the offense was tamed while the starting pitching was wasted.
Then in May, it was the opposite as the offense went beyond expectations while the starting pitching fell off the reservoir with Matt Andriese surprisingly churning out the team's best performances. With an off-day coming up Thursday, Andirese can help in the bullpen for the rest of the series, but that is a temporary fix.
So what can be done?
Promote Blake Snell (and maybe Jaime Schultz!)
Snell made his highly anticipated major league debut in May and after a shaky first, he impressed and delivered six innings of one run ball. That performance has been better than most of the starts the Rays rotation has produced. In fact, the Rays have played 55 games, 23 of those were games in which the Rays starting pitcher went less than six innings. The Rays hold a record of 9-14 during those games, where as they're 16-16 otherwise.
NO HITTER HERE
While I personally would like to see Schultz given a chance to start in the majors, he'd be better served to assist the team in the bullpen as he could be capable of providing a high leverage arm that could span multiple innings for the Rays.
Move Matt Moore to the Bullpen
Dana Eveland was recently relegated to a mop up role for the Rays and Kevin Cash has only turned to him when he ultimately had no other arms to turn to. Eveland has pitched in 18 games this season, the least of any Rays reliever whose been with the team since opening day, while has allowed the second most runs of any bullpen arm behind Erasmo Ramirez.
So, if the Rays were to move Matt Moore to the bullpen, he would have to focus on trying to pace out his starts as he would most certainly be able to pitch with maximum effort and also serve as another bullpen arm capable of eating innings when he can. Moore may not pitch much better than he did while in the rotation, but that would still be better than what Eveland was bring to the table.
If the Rays were to go with this plan, the starting rotation would feature Archer, Odorizzi, Smyly, Andriese, and Snell while the bullpen would have Colome, Romero, Cedeno, Moore, Schultz, and either Sturdevent or Garton -- who could eventually be replaced by Jonny Venters or Brad Boxberger.
One thing is for certain though, if the Rays hope to contend, something will have to be done about the pitching situation.
I know I have personally saved the Rays season once this year as I single handedly fixed Evan Longoria, hence this evidence. Since that article was published, Longoria has hit a robust .330/.400/.660 with nine homers...so you're welcome and the Rays should listen to me on these moves.
What would you like to see done?