When Jeff Niemann landed on the disabled list in early April, no one was terribly surprised. He has become known as an injury-prone pitcher, the only one on the Rays staff the past few years. But then David Price went down in May and Rays fans began to realize how lucky they have been. Alex Cobb followed in June and it quickly became apparent how quickly everything can come crashing down. And now, here on the last day of July, the Rays got wind of the fact that one of their starting pitchers would hit the DL for the fourth consecutive month as Matt Moore has gone on the 15-day DL with left elbow soreness. Will the Rays be able to survive yet another injury?
The Rays got lucky–Moore could not have gotten injured at any better time. That’s to a multitude of off-days, the Rays will be able to work with four starters until August 17th. And because Moore’s injury is not so serious, that August 17th date could very well be when he makes his return. Moore doesn’t have any structural damage in his elbow and is optimistic that everything will be fine.
“The goal is to be healthy for the last month and a half. I’m very optimistic.”
Moore’s injury is similar to what happened with Jeremy Hellickson in June of last season when he was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder fatigure and was back after the minimum 15 days. Hellickson picked up right where he left off when he returned. The important thing is to make sure a minor issue doesn’t become anything Moore, and the Rays hope that shutting Moore down for two weeks can make sure he’s healthy moving forward. And even if it takes Moore a little bit longer to return, it’s not as though he’s the Rays only option for the last spot in their rotation.
The way things have worked out, there’s a real possibility that Alex Cobb could return right around the same time as Moore, as Joe Maddon told Roger Mooney. The Rays will be getting a huge lift with two extremely talented pitchers coming back to make a strong rotation even better. And if the Rays need another starter before they come back, there is always Jake Odorizzi, who has delivered an outstanding season at Triple-A and pitched well the last time the Rays gave him a chance to make a big league start. Even with Moore out, the Rays’ depth is far from depleted and all their top-of-the-line starters will all be back before long. This is why you have pitching depth, to make another team’s disaster into a situation where you say “oh, that’s annoying, but we’ll be fine.” Matt Moore is hurt and so is Cobb. But with plenty of pitching depth, the schedule working in their favor, and both pitchers on track to come back within a couple weeks, there isn’t the slighest reason for Rays fans to panic.