Rays pitcher Alex Cobb is targeting a late July return from Tommy John surgery, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Cobb went under the knife in mid-May of last season. This reported time table puts him on a typical 14 to 15 month pace. Cobb last pitched in 2014 when he posted a 2.87 ERA with 8.06 K/9, 2.54 BB/9 and a 56 percent ground ball rate.
- Waiver claim Chase Whitley is on a similar return schedule to Cobb. Whitley’s surgery came a few days after Cobb so it’s possible he won’t be ready until early August. While Cobb has a borderline ace ceiling, Whitley has performed more like a swingman. In 95 career innings, he has a 5.02 ERA with 7.20 K/9 and 2.18 BB/9. Interestingly, his peripherals suggest the potential for a sub-4.00 ERA.
- While they recover, the rotation is a little thin if injuries strike. The team is already relying upon Matt Moore and Drew Smyly – both of whom have missed significant time in recent seasons. Matt Andriese is one of the main depth options with top prospect Blake Snell knocking on the door.
- Topkin also runs through the position battles at other positions. Outfield is a spot to watch for our readers. The club is particularly deep. Trade acquisition Corey Dickerson is expected to be the primary designated hitter with Desmond Jennings in left, Kevin Kiermaier in center, Steven Souza in right, and Brandon Guyer in a reserve role. Injuries or a trade opportunity could quickly mutate the plans.
- The Rays problems are of the “good” variety, Topkin writes in a separate piece. Most of the roster is crowded with the exception of the bullpen where options can emerge unexpectedly. With their depth, future transactions in the outfield and at first base are possible. The team has been shopping James Loney for awhile now. He’s owed $8MM for this season.