Clarifying the Tampa Bay Rays’ Rotation Predicament


Today at Rays Colored Glasses, you are going to be hearing plenty about what the Tampa Bay Rays should do to fix their starting rotation issues. Before we start, though, it is worthwhile to explain exactly what those issues are.

The Rays entered the new year expecting to have a starting rotation of David Price, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, and Jeremy Hellickson. Instead, Hellickson got injured in January, giving way to Jake Odorizzi, the winner of the fifth starter competition in spring training. Hellickson had to undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery that will sideline him until at least the middle of May. With the Rays possessing five quality starters even without Hellickson, they were hoping to bring him back a little slowly. Hellickson will get a couple of rehab starts, but with the Rays rotation looking as it does, expect him to make a start before the end of May.

Alex Colome was the next to disappear, going down for 50 games from a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Colome was in a rough spot in the organization even before that, spotting in as just the seventh or eighth starter on the depth chart even though he has great stuff and has pitched extremely well at Triple-A. Now is when the Rays would have appreciated having him the most, but instead he is a non-entity.

The losses of Hellickson and Colome were not that big of an issue for the Rays. It was the next two injuries that are catastrophic. Matt Moore left his third start with an elbow issue, and it turned out to be an issue with his ulnar collateral ligament. It is only a slight tear, so Moore is not certain to need surgery–but even if his rehab goes perfectly, he will be out “several months” as stated by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Mooney also reports that Alex Cobb’s oblique injury, which sent him to the DL after a masterful performance against the Cincinnati Reds, will keep him out for at least four to six weeks. Initially, we thought both Moore and Cobb would come back soon, but both injuries were worse than initially expected and now the Rays rotation faces a pair of major holes.

Aside from the three remaining regular starters–David Price, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi–the Rays do have the two pitchers that lost out to Odorizzi in the fifth starter race: Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard. The issue: Ramos has never been an effective big league starting pitcher while Bedard hasn’t done well since 2011. Nevertheless, Bedard continues to miss bats with his curveball and has not been a total train wreck, so he will enter the Rays rotation for now. They are lucky that he came back after opting out of his minor league deal. Ramos, on the other hand, will likely head back to the bullpen with another pitcher coming up to man the fifth spot. The candidates if the Rays stay within the organization are lefty Mike Montgomery and right-hander Nate Karns. Either pitcher would be available for the Rays’ game against the New York Yankees on Friday after they started for the Durham Bulls the last two days. Montgomery is a former top prospect while Karns is an older prospect but one with excellent stuff, and either has the talent to hold down the rotation spot although the Rays can’t be confident they can actually do so.

At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays have three starting pitchers injured and one suspended, leaving a somewhat washed-up veteran and a pair of prospects as their go-to options. Can Bedard and one of Montgomery and Karns step up to fill the vacancies or should the Rays go out of the organization? Hear more about that today at Rays Colored Glasses.