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Rays already tapping into pitching depth for 2022

Tampa Bay is already dipping into the pitching depth for the fifth game of the season.

Minnesota Twins v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Kevin Cash is a genius and the pitching staff is where he truly hones his skill as the mad scientiest of baseball. Over the years, Cash and his staff have been able to squeeze all of the available talent out of the arms at his disposal, bringing pitchers in at unique opportunities in order to place his team in the best position to win on any given night and also to help set up positions to win on future nights.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Cash has continuously increased the number of different pitchers he has employed on the roster, finishing the 2017 campaign having use 30 pitchers, 31 in 2018, 33 in 2019, and then in 2021 Cash really outdid himself with 41 different hurlers.

In 2022, the fans of the team should expect little difference, even with MLB’s new rule allowing a player to be optioned just five times over the course of the season.

The Rays have stacked their roster full of talented young arms that have the added benefit of also having options remaining on their contracts.

With Opening Day finally arriving, the Rays have 15 pitchers on their active roster. Of those 15, 10 are able to be optioned, if need be, to the minor leagues. Meanwhile, the Rays have five more pitchers on their 40-man roster stashed away in Triple-A Durham, all of whom have options remaining as well.

During the first game of the season, in a game that the Baltimore Orioles scored just one run and notched seven hits, Cash managed to use seven pitchers, showing his willingness to use every arm in the bullpen in almost any situation.

Among the 40-man options, Tommy Romero was the lone traditional starting pitcher in the minors. He is being promoted for the second series of the year to start in Ryan Yarbrough’s stead, due to a minor injury for the veteran southpaw.

If the Rays need another pitcher with length, Calvin Faucher would be the next man up. He made 3 starts in his final 4 appearances Bulls last year after his acquisition in the Nelson Cruz trade, and pitched 2+ innings in 7 of 11 appearances in the Rays system. In 2022, he’s made two appearances going 7 and 9 batters long.

In short relief, the Rays also have former major league short relievers Poche and Thompson available; both are recovering from injuries that led to missed time in 2021. The other name is a recent acquisition, Ralph Garza Jr., who could be the heir apparent to Chaz Roe. He was a waiver claim that has yet to make his Rays system debut.

Meanwhile, there are still more pitchers the Rays could use who are not currently on the 40-man roster, and they have several players with big league experience also in Triple-A, such as Aaron Slegers, Cody Reed, and David Hess, plus several other intriguing arms on the cusp of making their big league debuts, with the most notably being Tyler Zombro who suffered a horrifying injury last season when he was struck in the head by a line drive, resulting in emergency brain surgery.

It is an almost certainty that the 15 pitchers the Rays opened the season, will not be the same group of guys as the season progresses with the Rays likely to swap arms as soon as they’re able, continuing the evergreen churn of the Durham shuttle.

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