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The Rays projected 2020 starting rotation

The season starts today with Morton, and Yarbrough is next. After that???

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays have announced the first two starters for the season’s opening games on Friday and Saturday against the Blue Jays, and neither of them is Blake Snell.

But that shouldn’t be cause for concern... yet.

We begin with Cy Young award finalist Charlie Morton, who gets to take the mound on Opening Day after throwing four innings over the weekend in a simulated game. He will take the mound opposite LHP Hyun Jin Ryu, who signed a four year, $80 million contract with Toronto this winter.

The second man up is then Ryan Yarbrough, who had no delays in travel or COVID testing and is therefore potentially the most ready arm to step up and take on innings. Yarbrough was a ready foot soldier behind The Opener concept, but has now been deemed ready to take on the starting role for himself.

After that? Well, it’s not really clear.

Under normal circumstances, next would come Blake Snell, who pitched in a simulated game Tuesday evening at Tropicana Field, a day after Yarbrough’s final summer camp outing, opposite of Tyler Glasnow. And while the Rays have not commited to who will be the starter on Sunday (it’s formally listed as TBD), the starter for the fourth slot has been confirmed by Kevin Cash to be “most likely” Glasnow.

Lastly, Yonny Chirinos — who pitched four innings in a simulated game Thursday morning — has been confirmed for the starting rotation, despite a late summer start similar to Glasnow’s timeframe.

Officially, the Rays starting rotation is as follows:

  • Charlie Morton
  • Ryan Yarbrough
  • TBD
  • Tyler Glasnow?
  • TBD

What does this all mean?

Snell himself admitted he was only three weeks into his ramp up for the season, which in a pinch puts him at a likely 75-pitch hard cap, and maybe without his best results. So the Rays may be closely monitoring his arm and the series, and biding their time on making a determination.

If the bullpen is fresh, could we see a bullpen day on Sunday for start three? Could Blake Snell follow an opener if he’s still not ramped up? It’s the Rays, it’s all on the table. And if Snell is not ready at all, Glasnow could easily pitch on Day 3, no sweat.

No matter what happens on game 3 or 4, though, Chirinos should be set for Game 5, but similar to Snell’s need to still warm up for full season strength, one has to wonder if Chirinos could get an Opener as well.

2020 baseball. It’s gonna get wild.