On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays played a doubleheader with the Baltimore Orioles and earned a split. The winning pitcher in the lone victory was not the red-hot Jake Odorizzi, but instead rookie Alex Colome making his fourth major league start and his first of 2014.
Getting the opportunity because Jeremy Hellickson was still not ready to return, Colome went 5.2 innings allowing just a run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 4. The walks are certainly a concern, and Colome also allowed two wild pitches, but his stuff was impressive and he got the results to boot. Colome’s fastball touched 97.5 MPH according to Brooks Baseball, and also showed effectiveness with his slider and changeup. Even if Colome was not overpowering despite his power arsenal, he did a nice job keeping the Orioles off-balance, forcing 7 groundballs to 8 flyballs. Colome clearly has things to work on, but it was a successful start and something for him to build upon moving forward. However, will Colome head back to Triple-A with confidence or get the chance to continue adjusting at the major league level?
Alex Colome will be back with the Triple-A Durham Bulls for now. Colome was the 26th man in the Rays’ doubleheader against Baltimore, and now the Rays roster is back down to 25. It is worth noting, though, that the 10-day rule does not apply for players called up as the extra man for doubleheaders, so Colome could come right back up to start in four or five days if the Rays so choose. One thing we know that helps Colome is that Jeremy Hellickson suffered something of a setback in his last rehab start. Hellickson will reportedly stay on his rehab schedule, but what does that mean considering that his return to the major leagues has continuously been pushed off? For now, Erik Bedard remains on the team and will start today versus the Orioles. Bedard has pitched decently, and he may attract a little trade interest if the Rays decide to let him go. But combine Bedard’s impending departure with David Price being a candidate for a trade in the next few weeks, and the Rays will have two starting rotation spots open for the taking. Alex Colome could be in line to take one of them.
When Price is dealt, especially if the deal happens soon, the Rays could keep Bedard, but what is the point? When you have a pitcher like Colome at Triple-A, you are not going to hold him back for a 35 year old veteran in a year where your team is not contending. Colome will be back in the major leagues before long, but the timing of his return remains up in the air. If the Rays wanted, they could designate Bedard for assignment a little early and give Colome a start or two while Hellickson continues his rehab. At the same time, however, there isn’t much of a point to calling Colome up and sending him back down once Hellickson is ready–unless the Rays believe that a Price deal will come together by the time Hellickson comes back. With the Rays certainly not wanting to rush a Price deal, though, Colome should be back at Triple-A at least until the trade is completed.
In 2009, the Rays brought up Wade Davis to get his first big league opportunity, and Davis proceeded to provide a bright spot in a lost season. Alex Colome’s story is a little bit different–he is two years older than Davis and has already pitched in five big league games–but he will be the latest young pitcher given a chance to show what he can do and possibly work his way into the rotation picture for next year. It may take a little time as the Rays have a rotation backlog at this point, but Rays fans will be seeing plenty more of Alex Colome as the 2014 season continues.