I would not want to be Joe Maddon at this point in Spring Training or would I? The Rays this Spring Training have proven how deep their pitching staff actually goes. There are 4 good pitchers that I believe are the front runners for the 5th pitcher in the starting rotation.
Jeff Neiman, David Price, Wade Davis and Carlos Hernandez have all shown great promise for the Rays as a possible 5th starter. Lets just take a look on what has been going on this fine Spring season and you tell me what you like?
Neiman – 2 Wins, ERA 1.00, 5 Hits, 2 BB, 8 strikeouts, 9 Innings Pitched. Uhm… complete dominance if you ask me.
Price had his first outing yesterday and showed some promise with: 2 Innings Pitched, 2BB, 3 Strikeouts. He did show some wildness with his fastball command but on the bright side his change-up worked very well.
Davis – 1W, 1L, ERA 6.48, 9 Hits, 2 BB, 7 Strikeouts, 8.1 Innings Pitched while allowing 2 HR. Maybe not as good numbers you may want as your number 5 starter, especially when the competition is so good.
Hernandez – 1W, ERA 0.00000, 7 Hits, 2 BB, 3 Strikeouts, 8 Innings Pitched. Although he is not someone we may hear a lot of like the others, its hard to ignore his Spring numbers. Still very doubtful to make the rotation.
If I were to put on a Maddon facemask, based on the numbers so far this Spring and the performances, I think Jeff Neiman would have to be penciled in as the number 5 starter. I know that Price is a favorite to win the spot especially with his performances during the playoffs, but there is no need to rush him up at this point when we have someone like Neiman to fill in until he commands his fastball more. I think when Price is ready to be moved up, the Rays can then move Neiman as a long relief pitcher incase a starter needs to be taken out early. No matter what decision the skipper makes, I just dont see how he can go wrong.