Matt Andriese has nothing left to prove in the minors. But with the young arms on the way for the Tampa Bay Rays, can he stay in the rotation?
We know that the front of the Tampa Bay Rays starting rotation is set. Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi will be leading the staff, and if Cobb is healthy, that is a very good trio. Blake Snell will likely hold down the fourth spot in the rotation. That leaves the fifth spot up for grabs, a spot that could well go to any of the Rays exciting pitching prospects.
And yet, Matt Andriese may well be the front runner for the fifth starter spot. He has already proven his worth in the Majors, posting a decent 4.28 ERA and a 1.257 WHiP in 193.1 innings. In that time, Andriese has struck out 158 batters against 43 walks. Those numbers have been just about league average, but that strikeout to walk rate shows that he may have something more that the Rays have yet to see.
Perhaps the reason as to why that is the case is because Andriese has not had a defined role during his time in Tampa Bay. Of his 54 career appearances, exactly half have come as a starter. He has had his struggles in that role, with a career 4.49 ERA and a 1.318 WHiP. Meanwhile, his numbers as a reliever, a 3.74 ERA and a 1.094 WHiP, make one think that he could be best suited for a role as a middle reliever or setup man.
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While such a role appears to be in Andriese’s future, given the wave of pitching talent on the cusp of the Majors, that does not mean he is ready for that role. Instead, he is still fighting for one of those final spots in the rotation, looking to show that he is a viable Major League starter.
Chances are, he will have that shot. Jose De Leon may well come to the Rays in short order this season, but they do have the Super Two deadline to consider. If keeping him in the minors for a month or so leads to another year of team control, then De Leon will end up in Durham. In the meanwhile, Andriese will have that chance to prove himself. And perhaps this time, he will be able to remain a starter for the entire season.
Matt Andriese has filled a variety of roles for the Tampa Bay Rays. This time, maybe he can last an entire season in the starting rotation.