Xavier Cedeno. Brad Boxberger. Tommy Hunter. Shawn Tolleson. Kevin Gadea.
These are five pitchers who are supposed to setting up for Alex Colome right now, but instead they’re currently on the disabled list. (Well, Rays could have anticipated that Tolleson would not be available but the other injuries were unanticipated). They have been replaced by a revolving list of other pitchers, some of whom would probably not be on the roster if not for these injuries.
In other words, we are looking at a bullpen that has been stitched together, thrown in a blender, and then stitched back together again. Even one of the Rays first options to be called up (Jaime Schultz), went down with an injury early on the season and is still on the disabled list.
The result? The Rays have lost 14 games already this season in which they led.
For example, as the Rays take on the Boston Red Sox this weekend, here is their bullpen:
- Diego Moreno - Journeyman minor leaguer
- Jose Alvarado - Rookie promoted straight from Double-A with only a few games of MLB experience
- Erasmo Ramirez - A very solid long relief option
- Chase Whitley - Another very solid long relief option
- Danny Farquhar - A wildcard who could be dominant or awful depending on the day
- Jumbo Diaz - A guy with a very winding path to the majors who can be dominant, but also gets hit hard
- Alex Colome - The best of the bunch and among the top relievers in baseball.
Now only if the Rays could have the bullpen they had drawn up when spring training started, things may be different.
Tommy Hunter was one of the Rays top relievers when he went down in mid-April. He has been on the DL since April 23rd. He is accompanying the team on their road trip and is aiming to return by the end of the month, which is good news.
Brad Boxberger was one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball in 2014 and he followed that with a solid 2015 campaign. Injuries have plagued him ever since. Hopefully he’ll rejoin the Rays soon, as according to Marc Topkin he’ll start throwing from a mound on Tuesday. He’s currently on the 60-day DL and will be eligible to be activated on Just 1st.
Shawn Tolleson was a fantastic closer for the Texas Rangers in 2015, but his success disappeared during a disastrous 2016 campaign. He finished that season on the 60-day DL, and that’s where he started the season for the Rays. There is no projected return date for him.
Xavier Cedeno was supposed to be one of the sure things in the Rays bullpen in 2017 after two solid seasons with the club. However, a nagging injury hampered him from the onset of the season and he eventually landed on the 60-day DL. A visit to Dr. Andrews determined surgery wasn’t needed, but he’ll still be out until at least August.
Kevin Gadea is an unknown. The Rays got him in the Rule V draft with the idea of stashing him their bullpen all season. An injury made the Rays task easier as they placed him on the 60-day DL, but once he’s ready to be activated, who knows what he’ll bring to the table.
Even the best bullpens are likely to have a few weak links once you get past the top two or three pitchers, but the injury bug has meant that Cash’s relief options almost all come with question marks.