For starters: Alex Cobb returns, so does Melvin Upton Jr.
Alex Cobb returns to the mound tonight for the first time since Sept. 28, 2014, his long, arduous rehab from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow finally over.
He faces the Blue Jays in his first big league action in 704 days.
“Our expectations are for him to go out and have a solid outing,” manager Kevin Cash said.
Cobb is aiming to throw between 80 and 90 pitches as he begins his readjustment to facing big league hitters in a real big league setting. He should make five starts over this final month of the season, enough to knock off the rust and build a foundation for the 2017 season.
Tonight also marks the return of Jays OF Melvin Upton Jr., better known around these parts as B.J.
Upton hasn’t played at the Trop since Oct. 3, 2012. He remains the organization’s leader in post-season hits (27) and stolen bases (6). His 232 career stolen bases with the Rays are second all-time behind Carl Crawford. He is still the only player in Rays history to hit for the cycle.
Also back are C Curt Casali and RHP Ryan Garton, two of the three players in the first wave of September call-ups. The third is RHP Eddie Gamboa, who spent two days with the Orioles last season but did not pitch. Gamboa is a knuckleballer, having thrown the pitch since he was 12.
The Rays lead the season series against the AL East-leading Jays 7-6.
The Rays have scored 45 runs in six games in Toronto and only 20 in the seven games played at the Trop.
Here are the lineups:
Stroman RHP (9-5, 4.48)
COBB RHP (season debut)