The Tampa Bay Rays are known for their pitching depth. It is what make them a yearly threat in the AL East. But despite winning 90+ games consistently thanks to pitching depth, we may have yet to see just how much the Rays can put together.
The Rays could fill their entire rotation for years to come with guys who have already seen time in the big leagues. David Price, Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake Odorizzi, and currently injured Matt Moore are all under control through at least 2015, with all but Price under control for longer than that. Of course, Price could be traded, but he is likely to bring back some pitching in return, and that could even increase the logjam. At the Triple-A level, the Rays have Alex Colome, Nate Karns, Mike Montgomery, Matt Andriese, Enny Romero, and Merrill Kelly who all could conceivably be good enough to be big league starters. For a multitude of reasons, some of them could move to the bullpen, but if even one of them shows they are ready to be a part of the big league rotation, there might not be a spot. Even in Double-A, Dylan Floro and Grayson Garvin (if he can stay healthy) could be ready for the big leagues at some point in 2015. Even if Price is traded and a pitcher is not part of the return, the Rays could still have 13 players capable of pitching in the big league rotation in 2016. That number is more likely to hover around 9-10 with guys like Colome, Montgomery, Romero, and Kelly possibly headed to relief, but that number is still impressive.
Then there is the bullpen. Of the Rays’ current relief corps, six are controllable through 2015 and five are controllable beyond then. There is a chance that of those five, Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos could be replaced, but they have both been solid contributors and both are not going anywhere unless a younger player pushes for their roster spot. Then you have to consider how much relief talent the Rays have at Triple-A. Josh Lueke, Brandon Gomes, Jeff Beliveau, and C.J. Riefenhauser have all already seen big league time, and all could end up back in the big leagues in the future. Then there is the emerging Jake Thompson, who has dominated this year, and Steve Geltz and Adam Liberatore, both of whom don’t get much credit, but both of whom have put up great numbers. Of that group, both Riefenhauser and Thompson could end up being at least setup men in the big leagues, and the rest could make an impact. That doesn’t even consider that the Bulls have so many starters mentioned above that could dominate in relief. Even at Double-A, guys like Cory Burns, Santiago Garrido, Andrew Bellatti, and Bryce Stowell have a chance to work their way big league bullpen picture by 2016. When looking at all these names, the Rays could easily have 15+ capable players fighting for 7 bullpen spots in 2016.
The fact that the Rays have so many pitchers that could factor in is quite an accomplishment. Of course, a lot could go wrong between now and 2016, and some trades are inevitable. But this is a great problem for the Rays to have, and once again Andrew Friedman has outdone himself.
Tags: Tampa Bay Rays