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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: It’s opening day, and there are loose bodies

In the rotation.

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

I’m sorry for the picture. Austin Pruitt will probably not pitch today. Chris Archer will start Opening Day, for the fourth time in four years, and it will be his job to go deep into the game and then hand the ball off, preferably with a lead, to the back end of the Rays bullpen.

Then tomorrow it will be Blake Snell’s turn.

And then, after that, well, it gets complicated.

We learned yesterday that projected third starter Nathan Eovaldi will need surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow, and while the structure of his elbow is fine, and Eovaldi could return this year, the injury certainly makes the first part of the season interesting.

The Rays were already planning on covering one of the five “starting spots” with their bullpen. Now, rather than replace Eovaldi with another designated starter, they’re going to use the bullpen to conver two out of five starting spots.

Austin Pruitt was promoted. Mark Topkin wrote about the plan.

It’s the right thing for the Rays to do. One of their goals in going with the four-man-rotation-supplemented-by-the-bullpen was to learn empirically what a team needs to do to use its bullpen effectively in this way. Major league baseball is heading in this direction, with more and more innings being shifted away from starters and to relievers, and the Rays decided that they needed to be out in front of the league.

With a roster short on starting pitchers (with Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon already injured, and Jake Odorizzi traded), having two spots rather than one to cover doesn’t change the situation; it just makes it more extreme.

I wouldn’t expect TBD #3 and TBD #5 to pitch the Rays into the playoffs this year. And if Archer, Snell, and Faria can’t pitch deep into games, the bullpen may be fed more innings than it can handle, and the Durham shuttle may not be fast enough to keep up.

But it’s opening day. We’re going to find out.

Rays Links

  • Danny was on a podcast, talking Rays with Red Sox folks.

Other Links

  • Jeff Sullivan, by looking at spring training exhibition games against college teams, reminded us to remember that major league baseball is amazing. Happy opening.