The Rays have played with shorter outings from their starters and with bullpen games over the past several years, but in 2018 they’re going to try something more extreme and just go for it: four man rotation with bullpen games when you need a fifth starter.
Manager Kevin Cash talked to reporters about how it would work, with the four starters expected to go deep into games and then a group of other pitchers able to contribute two to three innings. He also was clear that the Rays aren’t 100% certain how this will work, and how each pitcher will adjust to their role, but that they’ll get a ton of information in the first six weeks and will be constantly evaluating.
Both Mark Topkin and Bill Chastain gave their takes on the plan. Topkin’s article includes quotes from Nathan Eovaldi, and Chastain’s includes quotes from Chris Archer and Matt Andriese. Andriese’s role is most effected, on paper, by the idea, but he sounded upbeat:
“[The Rays are] ahead of the game in a lot of the stuff,” Andriese said. “We have a lot of quality pitchers who can fill that role. I guess in a sense, it’s just using our depth wisely. And instead of having someone in Triple-A, let them be on the big league roster helping the squad.”
Cash seems to indicate that this plan had been a possibility for a while, but it certainly wasn’t helped by the injuries to Brent Honeywell, and now also Jose De Leon, who has a torn UCL and will also need Tommy John Surgery.
In a related observation, Jeff Sullivan noted that taking innings away from starters is a direction baseball has been going, and continues to go.
There were a few other roster moves:
In other #Rays pitching news: RHP Dustin McGowan was told he won't make the team but because of how highly respected he is has been given the option to stay in camp and keep working out, pending a better opportunity.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 7, 2018
- In Topkin’s notes, there’s the backstory on Sweet Caroline being played at Charlotte Sports Park: it was a fill-in employee who didn’t know better.
- Rays Radio audio with Blake Snell after the Orioles game.
- Jake Bauers has rooftop power, and Ozzie Timmons thinks you should quiet down.
- There’s hat drama with the Braves and Ronald Acuna Jr., which caused Roger Cormier to write about the recent history of hat drama, including former-Ray Fernando Rodney. In case you’ve lived under a rock for the past 50 years, here’s a clarification: hat drama is about race.
- Sheryl Ring wrote about whether Major League Baseball can or cannot legally exclude women, and whether the law implies that major league teams need to be scouting women (so as to know whether they’re qualified).
- I liked the third Short Relief article in here, about Ichiro and aging.
- Jim Turvey took a stab at how the record books would (should?) change if you were to remove users confirmed to have used PEDs.