May 13, 2011; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) is congratulated by pitcher David Price (14) shortstop Elliot Johnson (9) and pitcher James Shields (33) in the dugout during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Just How Many Starting Pitchers Do the Rays Have?

The Rays are renowned throughout baseball for their incredible depth of quality starting pitchers. They were the best in baseball in several categories despite Jeff Niemann going down for most of the season and David Price and Jeremy Hellickson also missing starts. All this begs a question: just how deep is the Rays’ starting depth? Let’s go down the list.

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Matt Moore
5. Jeff Niemann
6. Alex Cobb
7. Chris Archer

Those seven all made multiple starts for the Rays in 2012 and all of them have proved themselves to have the ability to be a solid MLB starters. Plenty of teams had seven or more pitchers make starts in 2012, but none showed as much talent from starter 1 to starter 7 as the Rays did. You have a pair of topflight pitchers in Price and Shields, two more pitchers with the chance to get there in Moore and Archer, and three great mid-rotation starters in Hellickson, Cobb, and Niemann. But that’s just the start of the Rays’ rotation depth.

8. Wade Davis

Davis worked in relief in 2012 and did a great job, and given the Rays’ rotation situation, he’s likely to remain there for 2013. But the Rays still consider him a starting pitcher moving forward and it will be interesting to see how the improvement to his arsenal he has made out of the bullpen will make a difference when he returns to a starting role.

9. Cesar Ramos

Ramos was the eighth and final pitcher who made a start  for the Rays in 2012, making exactly 1. Ramos has been a reliever for years now, but the Rays converted him back to a starter back at Triple-A after he performed well in strong relief for them in the big leagues and he has the arsenal to start.

10. Alex Torres
11. Alex Colome

Both Torres and Colome are promising pitching prospects for the Rays, with neither making September appearances because Torres had control problems this season and Colome had a shoulder issue at the end of the year and the Rays were conscious. But Torres is tearing up winter ball right now and Colome is getting healthy, and both have electric stuff and high upsides as starters. On other teams, they would have been pushed to the big leagues already, but the Rays are lucky enough to have the starting depth to let them develop as fully as possible before they make it to the big leagues.

Eleven starters. Wow, that’s a lot. Will the Rays keep all eleven this offseason? That’s something we’ll have to watch. But no matter what happens, the Rays’ starting depth will remain a major organizational strength and the anchor that keeps the team in contention season after season.

Tags: Alex Colome Alex Torres Cesar Ramos David Price James Shields Tampa Bay Rays

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