Rays Notes: Niemann in Trouble, The Plan for Chris Archer

By Robbie Knopf

Jeff Niemann‘s shoulder injury that caused him to leave his last start was not supposed to have been serious. Unfortunately, it officially is.

The good news: you can’t have Tommy John Surgery on your elbow. The bad news: shoulder surgery, if it were to become necessary, is a much more touchy subject. J.P. Howell wasn’t himself again until three years after shoulder surgery and some pitchers never recover. Niemann will not pitch again this season, but hopefully he will not require surgery, because at that point you never know.

Another Rays pitcher is out with a shoulder injury, right-handed pitching prospect Alex Colome. Colome has a strain in the lat muscle in his shoulder, which will end his season but he will be fine for next year. Colome, the nephew of ex-Rays pitcher Jesus Colome, had himself a very good season as he moved up from Double-A to Triple-A over the course of the year, going 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA, an 8.8 K/9, a 4.2 BB/9, and a 0.3 HR/9 in 17 starts and 91.2 IP. Colome has an electric arm, throwing a fastball in the mid-90’s that touches 97 MPH to go along with a nice curveball, a solid changeup, and a decent slider. Unfortunately, he won’t be an option for the Rays out of the bullpen in September, but he could have a bright future and he could see time with the team in 2013.

And we finish with news on a third Rays pitcher, Chris Archer. Archer was rumored to be the mystery man that the Rays were about to call up along with Dane De La Rosa and Stephen Vogt on Wednesday, but the Rays may have reconsidered. Marc Topkin sent out this very interesting tweet on Tuesday.

Archer is way too good for Double-A, but that would allow Archer to stay stretched out for a big league starting opportunity later in September. As we talked about previously, Alex Cobb has already surpassed his career-high in innings pitched between the minors and majors, and the Rays will want to rest him this month to avoid the possibility of injury. That’s where Cobb comes in. The Rays don’t even need a 5th starter from now until September 15th thanks to off-days, so Archer will be able to get a couple more starts in before heading to the big leagues while Cobb could see time in long relief, especially with Niemann now out.