The Rays have optioned left-hander Ryan Yarbrough to Triple-A Durham today and recalled fellow lefty Garrett Cleavinger to take his place, the team announced today. Yarbrough had started last night’s game against the Red Sox, and as the Rays have two days off next week, his next turn in rotation may have been skipped regardless.
Indeed, with rosters set to expand to 28 on the first of September, the move could well be a temporary measure to give manager Kevin Cash an extra arm in the bullpen. The move marks the first trip to the Rays’ active roster for Cleavinger, who was acquired from the Dodgers in an under-the-radar deadline move that sent minor league outfielder German Tapia to Los Angeles. In 4 1/3 innings across four games with the Dodgers this season, the 28-year-old southpaw posted an unsightly 10.38 ERA (and 2.08 WHIP), though he’s compiled a 2.37 ERA across 31 Triple-A innings between Oklahoma City and Durham. In the majors, he’s thus far posted a 4.70 ERA (6.25 FIP) across 23 innings in parts of three seasons with the Phillies and Dodgers.
The move marks the latest setback in what’s been an up-and-down year for the 30-year-old Yarbrough. After opening the season on the IL with groin tightness, the lefty has struggled to find consistent success, posting a 4.87 ERA (4.49 FIP) across 68 1/3 innings in the same sort of hybrid role he’s occupied since his 2018 debut.
While these numbers bear a striking resemblance to his 2021 output (5.11 ERA, 4.45 FIP), they still fall well short of his career marks (4.37 ERA, 4.10 FIP). Yarbrough’s advanced stats don’t offer a clear reason for the decline. His strikeout rate has dropped a bit, from 20.3% across his first three seasons to 17.9 % in the last two, but he’s continued to limit hard contact, allowing a hard-hit rate (the percent of balls in play with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more) of only 29.6%, nearly 10% below the league-wide average while his walk rate has inched downwards.
Regardless of the cause of the dip, it will be interesting to see how the Tampa front office handles Yarbrough in the offseason. He’s making $3.85MM this season in his second season of arbitration eligibility and could be a non-tender candidate for the financially constrained Rays.