Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

The Rays' Sergio Romo strikes out the side in the first inning against the Angels on Saturday, May 19, 2018. [Associated Press]
The Rays' Sergio Romo strikes out the side in the first inning against the Angels on Saturday, May 19, 2018. [Associated Press]
Published May 19 2018
Updated May 20 2018

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.

That's right. Romo will start again, the Rays hoping he can do the same for an inning or two.

"It will be talked about," manager Kevin Cash said. "Hopefully it works."

The second part would be determined by how well, and how many innings, LHP Ryan Yarbrough worked after replacing him in the second, and that worked pretty well as he worked effectively into the eighth in the 5-3 win.

The Rays unveiled the plan, hailed as revolutionary by some and ridiculous by others, as a way to get Yarbrough deeper in the game without the risk of facing the righthanders at the top of the order a third time.

Romo, making his first big-league start after 588 relief outings, did his part, striking out Zack Cosart, Mike Trout and Justin Upton on 18 pitches, which, in theory, made available to start again today.

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Cash said the Rays had thought about this for a while and decided to try it now: "We're going to find out a lot. We're not going to make a judgement after one outing. I'm sure we'll visit … this scenario again, but (Saturday) should give us a pretty good assessment of how comfortable the pitchers are.''

Hechavarria to DL, Stanek to big leagues

The Rays acknowledged what seemed obvious in putting SS Adeiny Hechavarria on the 10-day disabled list due to the right hamstring strain he sustained Thursday and his past history with those issues. With 3B Matt Duffy feeling well enough to return to duty after missing three games due to his own sore hamstring, the Rays opted to use Hechavarria's spot to instead add an extra arm to the bullpen and called back RHP Ryne Stanek. He was with the Rays at the start of the road trip in Baltimore, then sent down last Sunday but didn't pitch at Triple-A Durham, so he returns fresh. Asked what he worked on during the stint in the minors, Stanek joked, "My timing.''

The Snell-OBJ connection

So how exactly did Giants WR Odell Beckham end up at Angel Stadium on Friday wearing a Blake Snell Devil Rays throwback jersey taking BP in a video that went viral? Well, it's pretty much friend-of-a-friend stuff and nothing to do with Beckham and the Bucs. The short version is that Snell's best friend, former Rays minor-leaguer Stone Speer, is somehow friends with Beckham. They were together one day when Snell called. Beckham mentioned he was going to California. Snell said the Rays were headed out there and Beckham should come out to watch him pitch. Beckham said he'd love to. They all talked again two weeks ago. Beckham said he would like to hit BP. Snell said he would set it up. Beckham also asked for a jersey, so Snell gave him one of his and had one made with Beckham 13, and got one of his in return.

Number of the day

1 Game started by Rays pitchers over the age of 30, after a streak of 603 games started by pitchers under 30 ended Saturday.


• RHP Nathan Eovaldi (arthroscopic elbow surgery) came through his slightly delayed third rehab assignment on Friday well, but the Rays decided he will make a fourth on Wednesday with Triple-A Durham, delaying his return until May 28-29./

• C Wilson Ramos was understandably proud of reaching the 100-homer milestone Friday: "Not too many catchers can do that. … That made me feel so good."

• OF Johnny Field is getting ready for some friendly clubhouse competition, ordering a jersey representing his hometown Vegas Golden Knights to be delivered to the Trop on Monday in expectation of a Stanley Cup final against the Lightning.

* 1B/DH C.J. Cron extended to 25 his streak of games in which he reached base  safely.