What do the third SpiderMan movie, Beyonce and the show Mad Men have in common? All of these were considered to be the best of their respective categories in 2007, the last time that Rays middle reliever Jamey Wright started a major league baseball game. That date was July 27, when Wright toed the rubber in a start against the Royals, giving up on ten hits in 6.2 innings of work. Six years, and six teams later, Wright is about to make his next start today against the Oakland A’s.
However, despite having Roberto Hernandez available to start and the potential to have a pitcher called up with the expanded rosters to make a start today, Wright is going to be called upon to try to stop the Rays slump. Manager Joe Maddon has stated that he feels a combination of Wright and a train of relievers match up better against the A’s than Hernandez would in a start.
Maddon said they are starting Wright, with plans to obviously use several other relievers, rather than Hernandez b/c he matched up poorly
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 1, 2013
As unconventional as starting Wright and going through a parade of relievers would seem, Maddon appears to just be taking the same approach he has with his lineup to the starting rotation, at least for one game. How often does he change lineups based on the matchups? Considering that Hernandez has not exactly done much to instill confidence that he can have a productive outing, why not try something different? This is also not the first time that Maddon has started a reliever. Last year, on June 24th, Cesar Ramos got the start against the Phillies. Although the circumstances were different, as that was the second game of a double header, the Rays have taken this approach before.
Even though it is difficult to envision Jamey Wright lasting more than three or four innings in his start, that may be enough. With the Rays looking for a way to end their recent skid, Wright and the bullpen may just wind up being the stopper they have been looking for.