Rays Pitching Shakeup Coming Soon

Since their breakout 2008 season, the Tampa Bay Rays pitching roster has carried the team. The Rays have finished with an ERA lower than the league average every year since and have only eclipsed the 4.00 mark once. Whether it be up-and-coming prospects or veterans cast aside by other teams, the Rays pitching staff has been able to pull every bit of production possible from their starting rotation and bullpen. It has been a remarkable run, but this year has proven different. 

With injuries piling up over the past few seasons and underwhelming performances by some pitchers, the Rays currently have the seventh-worst ERA in the league. With the imminent return of key starters, things may be looking up for the beleaguered Rays pitchers.

Big changes for Rays pitching are on the way

The Wizard of Baz

Rays starter Shane Baz has been out of action since July 2022, with what appeared to be at the time a right elbow strain. Baz would eventually end up undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2022 and miss the entirety of the 2023 season. While the road back has seen setbacks in the form of multiple oblique issues, it appears that Baz is through the worst of it and ready to bring his nearly 100 MPH fastball to the Rays rotation.

Since being activated from the IL and optioned to AAA on May 23rd, Baz has made seven starts for the Durham Bulls. While his first few starts were pitch-limited stints lasting only a handful of innings, his June 9th start showed that Baz’s return is imminent. Allowing one run on three hits over five innings, Baz racked up 10 strikeouts in 81 pitches. That amount of work shows the club is more trusting of letting Baz go longer and he seems primed to make his first big league start for 2024 in the coming days.

Springs Back Into Action

Joining Baz on the AAA pitching roster is starter Jeffrey Springs. Having undergone a Tommy John surgery of his own in April 2023, Springs made his first rehab start for Durham on June 12th. Springs only went two innings in the start, giving up one run and striking out three. His 18 pitches were obviously on the low end of any start, but in line with the approach the club took with Baz. Springs will be ramped up over his next few starts and looks to rejoin the big league squad sometime around the All-Star break in mid-July.

Springs’ return to the lineup would be a tremendous boost should he come back at the same levels he showed previously. In his last full season in 2022, Springs started 25 games, going 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA and a 3.6 WAR. That kind of production returning to the rotation late in the season could help the Rays finish strong down stretch and make a playoff push should they remain in contention.

But, Where?

With Baz ready to go and Springs not too far off, the question now becomes where they slot in the rotation. This is a more pressing issue for Baz as his latest start made clear. Should the Rays bump an underperforming starter like Aaron Civale into the bullpen? What about the possibility of a 6-man rotation? Does Baz stay in AAA until a spot opens due to poor performance or injury?

There are a lot of variables that will go into the decisions made, but it’s clear that Baz needs to find a spot in the rotation sooner rather than later. With the Rays floundering around the .500 mark and the offensive output down this season, the pitching staff is in dire need of a shakeup to return to its dominant form.

Main Image: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

5 2 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
5 2 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x