Here’s the latest from Tropicana Field…
- Chris Archer will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injured groin, he told MLB.com’s Erik Erickson and other reporters. The injury cropped up during Archer’s start on Saturday, and the Rays ace said the problem was still bothering him today. Given the timeline, Archer said it was “questionable” whether he’d make his next scheduled start. Losing Archer would be another blow to a Rays team that has been scrambling for arms due to injuries and their unique usage of regular bullpen days, not to mention the potential impact it could have on Archer’s value as a potential trade chip at the deadline.
- In further ominous injury news, the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reports (Twitter link) that southpaw Anthony Banda will visit with team doctors after being placed on the Triple-A disabled list due to a forearm strain. Acquired as the primary piece in the three-team trade that sent Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks last offseason, Banda has posted solid numbers at Triple-A this season and also made three MLB appearances for the Rays (one official start and two relief outings behind “openers” Sergio Romo and Ryne Stanek). Forearm injuries are always cause for concern, particularly since Tampa Bay has already lost youngsters Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell to Tommy John surgery within the last few months.
- Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom recently spoke with The Athletic’s Juan Toribio (subscription required) about the team’s controversial “bullpen day” strategy and the usage of relievers to “start” games by pitching an inning before turning things over to a multi-inning pitcher. Bloom said the front office has been “encouraged” by the results thus far, and very pleased with how the players and coaching staff have bought into the idea. Despite the relative success thus far, however, Bloom said the Rays won’t necessarily stick with the pitching strategy going forward. “I think time will tell, but we don’t want to shoehorn a group of players into a certain model just to say that we’re doing it….I think potentially if you have a different group of players with different strengths and weaknesses, you might do something different,” Bloom said. “But what we wanted to get away from was kind of doing the opposite, where I think previously the mindset was that no matter what the strength and weaknesses are of our player group, we’re going to force them to be in the so-called traditional model. We wanted to take an approach of, let’s assess the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and then try and figure out a way to build this in a way that gives them the best chance.”
- The recent deal that sent Denard Span and Alex Colome to Seattle stands out as perhaps the biggest of the nine trades between the Rays and Mariners since Jerry Dipoto became Seattle’s GM in September 2015. The close relationship between Dipoto and Rays GM Erik Neander plays a large role, though Topkin expands on that topic as part of a larger piece about how Tampa Bay approaches trades in general. For instance, the Rays send several scouts to analyze another team’s player (or players) to get a variety of opinions before targeting someone in talks. The club also puts a particular focus on scouting the lower levels of the minors to find hidden gems; several players acquired from the Mariners, in fact, have been unheralded names who eventually cracked the big leagues.