The Rays announced Monday that they’ve placed top starter Blake Snell on the disabled list due to left shoulder fatigue. He’s already undergone an MRI and been cleared of any structural damage, the team added. Righty Chih-Wei Hu is up from Triple-A Durham to take his spot on the roster.
The absence of any structural damage is obviously a major sigh of relief for the organization and fans alike, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Snell looks to be in line for only a minimal DL stint. In the short-term, Snell’s absence and the likely trade of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi within the next eight days will further change the composition of what has already been baseball’s most unique pitching staff in 2018.
With Snell out, the Rays will lean on Eovaldi and Chris Archer in traditional starting roles. As an impending free agent, though, Eovaldi is all but assured of changing teams before the non-waiver trade deadline, at which point Archer will be the lone arm that’s been utilized as a starter this season. Ryan Yarbrough is still fairly stretched out, having made a four-inning appearance just this past weekend, and he could be asked to soak up more innings as the state of the Rays’ roster changes.
The Rays have been utilizing Ryne Stanek in their newly created “opener” role with a great amount of success, though they’ve had a fairly wide cast of relievers start games on the remainder of the team’s “bullpen days” over the course of the season. Sergio Romo, Wilmer Font, Matt Andriese and Andrew Kittredge have all started multiple times this season, and rookie Hunter Wood is slated to make his second start in that unorthodox role later tonight.
Tampa Bay does have both Jake Faria and Yonny Chirinos on hand in the minors as options to come up and step into a more traditional rotation role, although at this point it’s difficult to forecast exactly how the organization will proceed with its pitching staff in an increasingly experimental season. To the Rays’ credit, while they’ve taken their share of flak for so aggressively moving away from conventional pitching roles, the team sits at 50-49 in arguably the toughest (or at least the most top-heavy) division in all of Major League Baseball.