The Rays placed right-handed reliever Chaz Roe on the 10-day injured list with a shoulder strain on Monday, but he’ll miss a far longer stretch than that. Roe won’t throw for six weeks, making it likely he’ll sit out 12-plus weeks of game action, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. That means Roe may not return until at least sometime in July.
This is the second blow the Rays’ bullpen has absorbed in the past couple weeks, as the reigning American League champions previously lost standout Nick Anderson until July or later because of a partial tear in his right elbow. Roe hasn’t dominated to the extent that Anderson had since being acquired from Miami, but the 34-year-old has nevertheless put up solid numbers with the Rays since making his team debut in 2017.
Through 119 1/3 frames from 2017-20, Roe notched a 3.54 ERA and logged an above-average 27.7 percent strikeout rate, although he totaled just 9 1/3 innings last season due to an elbow issue. The Rays outrighted Roe at season’s end but ultimately brought him back on a one-year, $1.5MM deal. This past Friday, Roe’s lone appearance so far this year, he surrendered two earned runs on one hit and two walks with a pair of strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning in a win over the Marlins.
To replace Roe, the Rays recalled righty Chris Mazza from their taxi squad. Mazza, whom the Rays acquired from the division-rival Red Sox in February, threw 30 innings of 4.80 ERA/4.97 SIERA ball with subpar strikeout (21.3), walk (11.0) and groundball (33.3) percentages last season. He made his Rays debut against his former team Monday and gave up two earned runs in as many innings.
Between Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks, the Rays still have a pair of potentially dominant late-inning righties at their disposal. Still, the early injuries to Anderson and Roe put pressure on the remainder of a relief corps that has some promise but little in the way of certainty. Veteran Collin McHugh has certainly been a quality reliever in the past, but injuries have hampered him in recent years. Ryan Thompson was solid for the Rays in 2020 and posted a huge 59 percent ground-ball rate in 26 innings, but that represents the entirety of the 28-year-old’s MLB experience. Andrew Kittredge had a promising 2019 season before injuries slowed him in 2020. The Rays, of course, have also proven adept at unearthing hidden gems, so it’s quite possible they tap into their farm and find yet another unexpected breakout performer to help shoulder the load.