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Tampa Bay Rays: With Pagan optioned, the staff is set.

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 31: Pitcher Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes his Major League Baseball debut as he pitches during the fourth inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on March 31, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 31: Pitcher Ryan Yarbrough #48 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes his Major League Baseball debut as he pitches during the fourth inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox on March 31, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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With the final decision made by Kevin Cash this morning regarding the battle between Adam Kolarek and Emilio Pagan for the final spot in the pen, the pitching staff is finally complete…for now.

The Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff for Opening Day is officially set as Kevin Cash notified Emilio Pagan that he was being optioned to Durham in favor of Adam Kolarek. The move was a little surprising as the Rays gave up their minor league pitcher of the year, Brock Burke to get Emilio Pagan from the Athletics in a three team deal. But, don’t worry, Pagan will still make an impact with the Rays this season.

Adam Kolarek rounds out an already deep bullpen that has even more depth waiting at Durham. Ian Gibaut, Colin Poche, Emilio Pagan, Hunter Wood and others are all expected to contribute at the major league level this year. But for now, Kevin Cash will rely on his unorthodox pitching staff to put his team in the best position to win.

The Opening Day staff is made up of 12 pitchers, 3 of which will be used in the traditional starter role, while 4 will be used in long relief and the final 5 will be in the opener and high leverage relief roles.

Here is the breakdown:

Starters: 

  • Blake Snell, LHP
  • Charlie Morton, RHP
  • Tyler Glasnow, RHP

Bulk:

  • Ryan Yarbrough, LHP
  • Jalen Beeks, LHP
  • Yonny Chirinos, RHP
  • Wilmer Font, RHP

Relief/Opener: 

  • Jose Alvarado, LHP
  • Diego Castillo, RHP
  • Ryne Stanek, RHP
  • Chaz Roe, RHP
  • Adam Kolarek, LHP

Who will be the closer?

  • I believe that Jose Alvarado and Ryne Stanek will see a majority of the save situations. By the end of the year, we may see Diego Castillo in the role as well.

Why are there 4 bulk guys when the Rays will only use 2 openers?

  • While Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos seem to be the front runners to get a majority of the innings after an open, Jalen Beeks and Wilmer Font were both very successful in that role last year as well. All four options can be used as multi inning relievers while Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks can also be used to face one or more tough left handed hitters. Basically, I don’t think they will all be confined to the bulk role.

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Final Thoughts:

  • While this is the pitching staff for Opening Day and possibly even the first couple of series, it is certainly not the final staff. The Rays have unparalleled depth when it comes to their pitching staff. If Glasnow struggles, Faria will be ready in Durham along with countless other relievers waiting to get the call.
  • Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon will both be ready sooner rather than later and are deserving of big league innings, but they may come in the form of bulk appearances.
  • Similar to last season, I would look for this staff to be one of baseball’s best.
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