It is no secret the Tampa Bay Rays are undergoing a pretty steep rebuild, and they’re not just rebuilding personnel, they’re rebuilding strategy.
While some teams have tinkered with the idea of rolling with a six-man starting rotation, the Rays decided they are going to go a man short and use four.
Instead of having a fifth starter, they’ll instead have multiple bullpen arms go through the lineup once apiece on the day the fifth starter ordinarily would go.
“Our plan, we’re not going to five,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, via ESPN. “We’re going to try to stay at four. We’re going to have some bullpen days in there. We’re going to try and do that for a long period of time. We’re going to learn a lot in the first six weeks.”
The idea may sound good in theory, but the reality is Tampa doesn’t have a ton of pitching depth beyond Chris Archer and some promising young arms. On top of that, the games bookending the fifth day will test the bullpen, and it’s hard to imagine that the relievers won’t be absolutely gassed after a couple of tough games where they have to go long.
Cash emphasized that his four starters won’t pitch on short rest, and that he’ll use reliever Matt Andriese — who has plenty of experience starting — as a fifth starter if necessary. Nevertheless they certainly will have some obstacles to get over with this pitching strategy.
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