The Rays announced they’ve selected right-hander Chris Ellis to the big leagues. Fellow righty DJ Johnson has been transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40–man roster, while southpaw Ryan Sherriff was optioned to Triple-A Durham to clear active roster space.
Ellis was originally a third-round pick of the Angels in 2014. A fairly well-regarded pitching prospect early in his career, he was traded to the Braves (as part of the Andrelton Simmons deal) and then to the Cardinals (as part of the return for Jaime García). He never made it to the majors with St. Louis, but he did log one big league appearance with the 2019 Royals as a Rule 5 pick.
Signed to a minor league deal over the winter, Ellis has spent the season with Triple-A Durham. He’s had a rough go of things in a hitter-friendly Triple-A environment, pitching to a 6.32 ERA over 15 appearances (13 starts). Ellis’ strikeout and walk rates (22.7% and 10.9%, respectively) are both a little worse than league average, but his biggest issue has been the home run ball. Ellis has coughed up 14 homers over 57 innings with the Bulls (a lofty 2.21 HR/9).
Ellis is at least stretched out, though, making him equipped to work multiple innings if needed. He’s worked five-plus innings in each of his four most recent starts with Durham, so he’ll serve as a swingman for a Rays pitching staff that has been hit hard by injuries this season. Ellis still has all three minor league option years remaining, so the Rays can move him back-and-forth between Tampa Bay and Durham without exposing him to waivers so long as he sticks on the 40-man roster.
The Rays acquired Johnson from the Indians just before the July 30 trade deadline. The 31-year-old only made three appearances with his new club before going down with the shoulder injury August 8, which manager Kevin Cash described at the time as “pretty severe.” Today’s transfer officially rules Johnson out for the remainder of the regular season. While he could technically return for a Tampa Bay postseason run, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s instead shut down for the year altogether.