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Bullpen SOS: Who might be the next man up?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Rays lost to the Yankees in extra innings last night, their bullpen had blown a two-run and then a three-run lead. The worst offenders were probably Colin Poche, who simply has not found his way back after surgery (ignore his 3.20 ERA, his 5.38 FIP seems more consistent with his performance), and Jalen Beeks, who has been more effective overall, but who did not have it last night and owns a 4.95 ERA/4.62 FIP over his last 20 innings.

Overall, the Rays bullpen has not been nearly as problematic as some frustrated fans might claim, with the seventh best ERA in the majors. They also lead the league in bullpen innings pitched with 491, but they don’t lead by a lot, and if we were to substract various bullpen day and bulk guy appearances they are probably near but not necessarily at the top.

But the team is surely without several key high leverage arms lost to injury, and when the Rays find themselves in long stretches of close games, they can very well end up using less effective relievers in tight game situations.

For those of you wondering about the Rays relief pitching depth both in the majors and in Durham, here’s some guidance.

First, we find a few major leaguers who are rehabbing. Could Nick Anderson or JT Chargois provide some help?

Rehabbing major leaguers (AAA stats)

Chargois 5.1 16.88 6.29 9.70% 19.40%
Anderson 7 3.86 6.77 22.20% 7.40%

Those AAA stats don’t suggest that either of them are ready for the majors quite yet. Marc Topkin reported that Chargois is “nearing a return to MLB” and that Anderson is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back games today and tomorrow.

Next we have minor leaguers currently on the 40-man roster, some of whom we’ve seen before:

Minor leaguers on 40-man (AAA stats since 7/12)

Cleavinger 6 1.5 0.98 54.50% 9.10%
Sanders 8.1 8.64 8.16 19.50% 2.40%
Faucher 15.1 1.76 2.96 32.80% 10.90%

Of these, Sanders seems to be struggling. Faucher looks great, but he’s always looked great in the minors. Newly acquired Cleavinger may be the most intriguing option in this group.

There are also some pitchers who have pitched well who are not on the 40-man roster. Javy Guerra boasts a 0.68 ERA over his last 13 innings, Tommy Romero has been used in relief and has a 1.50 ERA over his last 12 innings. Ralph Garza Jr, is also still kicking around, while Dustin Knight and Angel Perdomo are two non-roster options.

It seems like Cleavinger, Faucher, and Garza Jr. may be the most likely call-up options in the near future. The Rays are in the midst of a 17 games in 17 days stretch, still with 10 more of those to go.

Even with Rasmussen’s near-complete game, the Rays’ better relievers have been taxed in recent days. This table shows reliever usage (pitches, not innings) in the majors and in Durham over the few days.

You can see that Kevin Cash has departed from the Rays’ practice of avoiding using a reliever three days in a row with both Adam and Raley this week, and that the most effective relievers have been seeing a lot of action. The Rays have called up Luis Patiño to start tonight’s game, but they may need to bring along some fresher arms to provide additional help for the bullpen.