When David Price was placed upon the disabled list with his strained triceps, the logical move was to bring up a pitcher. It almost seemed to be a certainty that either Jake Odorizzi or Chris Archer would be getting the call to fill in for Price while he is injured. And the Rays did bring up a pitcher – just not either of the two that were expected.
Instead, Alex Torres got the call, and is in Tampa for the time being. He has already made a relief appearance, getting Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out in a five pitch at bat. This appearance was a bit surprising, as Torres was thought to be called up to replace Price in the rotation, not to pitch in relief. Perhaps this was the day he normally would have been getting his side work in, and the Rays figured to have him pitch instead, but it does seem a bit curious.
If Torres is heading to the bullpen, where he may actually be a better fit, then what is the next step for the rotation? And why bring up Torres for the bullpen if another reliever is not being sent down to create room? There could be a couple of reasons for that.
First, the bullpen has issues. A strength of the Rays since the team began contending in 2008, the Rays relievers rank last in the American League in ERA at 4.78. Last night was a microcosm of the year, as Kyle Farnsworth entered a 12-7 game with a runner on first, faced three batters and gave up two runs, leaving without recording an out. Joel Peralta and Jamey Wright, for the most part, have been the only two relievers that have engendered any feeling of comfort when entering the game thus far. Josh Lueke has been good since getting recalled, but the Rays still need to improve the performance of their bullpen.
Second, both Archer and Odorizzi have had their struggles in Durham. Archer is 4-2, but has an ERA of 4.38, and has walked 19 batters in 39 innings. His WHiP stands at 1.56, as he has struggled to get people out. Odorizzi is pitching better, with a 4-0 record and a 3.83 ERA, but has struggled at times recently. It could be that the Rays are waiting for Archer or Odorizzi to have a good start, so as to head to Tampa feeling good about their performance.
It could also be as simple as the Rays not wanting to call up either just to send them back down when Price comes back. Perhaps they feel that when either, or both, pitchers come back to Tampa, it will be to stay and to hopefully be fixtures in the rotation. With these thoughts in mind, it appears as though Torres may be nothing more than a stopgap measure for the time being, possibly taking a couple of starts until Price is ready, then being sent back to Durham.
Even though Alex Torres was brought up when Price went on the disabled list, he is not likely to remain in the rotation. He simply fills a need that the Rays have at the moment, as they wait for Archer or Odorizzi to prove that they are ready for the majors.