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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: The four-man rotation is here to stay

The fifth starter will be the bullpen.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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:

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