The Rays starting rotation has been depleted by injuries to Chris Archer, Jake Faria and Yonny Chirinos, and the Tommy John surgery of the top three pitching prospects Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon, and Anthony Banda.
Young lefty Ryan Yarbrough has impressed in his debut season, moving from a bullpen role to a true starter throughout the first half, but the next man up is hard to identify. When the Rays last promoted Chih-Wei Hu he never saw the mound. That’s because Hu is being transitioned back to the rotation this year.
Chih-Wei Hu has a good 5 pitch mix, but many think he might be a better reliever where his fastball has played up. He has the pitching repertoire and enough innings on the arm that he should be a fine starter, but the stuff plays up so much more in relief that he’s probably a more impact player in the bullpen.
Adding to the starting depth difficulty is that Matt Andriese has yet to be fully stretched out and may never, meaning that Tampa Bay cannot realistically rely upon veteran stopgaps like Ryan Weber and Vidal Nuno should another pitcher get hurt.
So with all of that in mind, who’s next on the depth chart?
The Rays have already acquired him.
Part of the Alex Colome trade, Andrew Moore is the next backend starter to be called upon, but you haven’t seen him written up in prospect circles because he already used up his rookie eligibility.
Last winter, however, this is what Eric Longenhagen said about Moore on Fangraphs:
“Moore is undersized, has a high-effort overhand delivery, doesn’t throw particularly hard (he was 90-93 this spring), and lacks an impact breaking ball. But he is athletic, has a potential plus changeup, and has never had issues throwing strikes despite the effort in the delivery. Moore does enough to project as a big-league rotation piece of some kind, likely as a strike-throwing No. 4/5 starter whose bat-missing abilities are limited.”
He had a rough MLB debut last year, but still shows the skills that he is a slightly better version of Yonny Chirinos (who could stare down the Red Sox) or Ryan Yarbrough (who just dismantled the Blue Jays) coming into the year, and if you can say with confidence that you think he’s a solid back end starter, that’s better than the Yonny and Yarbrough tier by a decent bit.
The profile lacks exciting upside — but to get high upside in a trade it’s likely a very low minors guy that is crazy high risk. Instead the Rays clearly wanted somebody to attach to the rest of the group of MLB ready talent when considering the injuries listed above.
People probably expected more than Moore for Alex Colome, but there was clearly almost no market for the Rays closer this winter, hence their keeping him into May, and the Rays cashed in when they could, and along with another minor league arm got a pitcher who could help today. He might even be next in line once Chirinos completes his rehabilitation from injury.
Moore’s not a guy that’s likely to be a an ace, but he should provide MLB value. If most everything goes right, you’re looking at a #3 at best, but more likely it’s a #4 type (outside of him going 90%+ projection).