OK, now the rotation injuries have become ridiculous. Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays appeared to dodge two landmines in March, after Alex Cobb was diagnosed with right forearm tendinitis and Drew Smyly with left shoulder tendinitis? There was no ducking from the booms of the past week, when Cobb announced his intention to have Tommy John surgery and knowledge surfaced that Smyly could face season-ending surgery with a labrum tear. What began as a spring of revolution has become the summer of scars. Check out these dizzying numbers: The Rays' rotation has fielded an American League-high eight different starting pitchers, four different rookies, and five starters have been sent to the disabled list a total of six times. Cobb and left-hander Matt Moore have been absent all season. Smyly has three starts. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi have risen from the No. 4 and No. 5 starters to be the top two options. Names such as Matt Andriese, Erasmo Ramirez and Steve Geltz all have been asked to take the mound in the first inning at various times in this juggling act. When it comes to the Rays' rotation, we're beyond Plan B, C and D. Try W, X or Y. Remarkably, USS Rays has stayed afloat within these choppy waters, despite obvious wonder about how long this trend can last. Efficient pitching, no matter the arms involved, can keep Tampa Bay moving in the right direction. "How they go, we go," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Sunday at Tropicana Field, after his team's 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. "They've been outstanding. It has been a tremendous effort from the guys that were initially slated to be here and then also from the guys that we've called upon from the minor leagues. Everybody has pitched in, per se, and done really well. And we know that's what it's going to take throughout the course of the year to get to where we want to get." Quick, if you were to learn on Opening Day that Tampa Bay would be without Cobb and Smyly for most of the season, would you expect a winning record through 32 games? How does 17-15 sound? That mark translates to second place in the AL East, which sounds a whole lot better than where the underachieving Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles find themselves. The victories earned in the most recent series against the Rangers on Friday and Saturday offered a model for how the Rays can make life work without Cobb and Smyly. Receive solid starts. Bet on the bullpen. Hit well. On the starting pitching and the bullpen: The Rays have allowed fewer than 10 hits in a team-record 19 consecutive games. They have surrendered five runs or fewer in 20 consecutive contests. Entering Sunday, they had posted a 2.52 ERA in the previous 19 games to lower their ERA total from a 4.64 to a season-low 3.41. They allowed four runs and 14 hits in the two wins over Texas. On the hitting: The Rays pounded 15 runs and 19 hits in routing the Rangers. Tampa Bay would take seven or eight runs each day as fast as Jameis Winston would accept a crab legs dinner. Of course, the Rays can't count on that much offense each day. But consistent production that gives them a chance should be the goal.
As Rays deal with rotation injuries, stopgaps transitioning into replacements
Fox Sports Florida | May 11