July 20: The Rays announced that Knight has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham, as relayed by broadcaster Neil Solondz.
July 17: The Rays have announced some roster moves prior to today’s game, starting with right-hander Pete Fairbanks being reinstated from the 60-day injured list. To make room on the active roster, lefty Jalen Beeks was placed on the 15-day IL due to right lower leg tightness. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, righty Dusten Knight was designated for assignment.
Fairbanks, 28, has emerged as a key reliever for the Rays over the past couple of seasons. Acquired from the Rangers for Nick Solak in 2019, he threw 26 2/3 innings of 2.70 ERA ball in the shortened 2020 campaign. That came with an excellent 33.3% strikeout rate, though a walk rate on the high side at 12%. He moved up the bullpen charts enough to earn seven holds that year. He followed that up with similar results in 2021, throwing 42 2/3 innings with a 3.59 ERA, 29.6% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate. Again, he was called on for important assignments, logging 14 holds and five saves.
He was expected to be a key part of the Rays’ bullpen again this year but tore a lat muscle in Spring Training. He’ll make his season debut as soon as he gets into a game. The absence of Fairbanks has been just one of many subtractions from their relief corps this year. While Fairbanks is coming off, the Rays still have four notable relievers on the 60-day IL: Nick Anderson, J.P. Feyereisen, JT Chargois and Andrew Kittredge.
With all of those options sidelined, the club has leaned on a committee approach for their high leverage innings this year. Eight different pitchers have at least one save but no one has more than six. Fairbanks should now step into the mix as well, alongside hurlers like Colin Poche, Jason Adam and Brooks Raley. Despite those bullpen setbacks, and many injuries elsewhere, the club is 50-41 and currently in possession of the top American League Wild Card spot.
Knight, 31, made his MLB debut with the Orioles last year but joined the Rays on a minor league deal in the offseason. He was selected to the big league club in April but designated for assignment one day later. After being outrighted, he was selected again in May. He’s pitched just eight innings at the MLB level this year, spending most of his time with the Durham Bulls. In 30 2/3 Triple-A innings, he has a 3.82 ERA, with a strong 25.7% strikeout rate but a 16.7% walk rate that’s double the current MLB average of 8.3%. The Rays will have a week to trade him, pass him through waivers or release him.