Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays piecing rotation into place

MIAMI — The Rays' jumbled rotation has been sorted out a bit.

After RHP Alex Colome made his big-league debut Thursday with a win over the Marlins, and with LHP Matt Moore pushed back to start tonight in Cleveland, the plan looked like this:

• RHP Jeremy Hellickson will pitch as scheduled Sunday in Cleveland.

• RHP Alex Cobb, who was scratched from tonight's start because of a cut on his right middle finger, is penciled in for Tuesday in Detroit, assuming he is healed enough by then.

• And RHP Chris Archer was announced as Saturday's starter after a promotion from Triple-A Durham.

Archer will be the third starter in a six-game stretch promoted from Durham, following RHP Jake Odorizzi and Colome, and the eighth used by the Rays this season, matching or surpassing their totals from each of the previous four seasons.

"It's unusual how this has all broke for us, but then again, how unusual is it that you're able to cover it so well and feel good about it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We talked about it in spring training, we talked about the depth being important, and there it is."

Archer, the Rays' top pitching prospect, was 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 10 starts for Durham. When the Rays made their previous moves, he was on a limited workload after missing one start and having another abbreviated, but he is considered back to full strength.

Cobb said the key to his availability will be whether he can grip and effectively throw his offspeed pitches, so he won't know for sure until he throws in the bullpen, likely Saturday.

"I just don't want to aggravate (the cut) right now. I just want to let it heal and make sure it's ready for that," Cobb said. "The precaution here is to make sure this doesn't linger through four, five, six starts. I just kind of want to beat it now."

Cobb said the cut, next to his nail, developed several starts ago, a result of throwing more offspeed pitches. It became worse and bled for the first time Sunday. "I've been able to pitch through it, but this time I'm not able to throw my curveball with it, so that's when the red flag kind of came up," he said.

If Cobb can't go Tuesday, the Rays, who have Monday off, can move up RHP Roberto Hernandez.

DRAFT BREEZE: The Rays feel good about their preparation and possibilities for the 21st and 29th picks in the opening round of the draft, which starts June 6.

"I think we've done as good a job as we've ever done of being in different parks and getting a lot of different looks at players, which creates and makes for some pretty spirited conversations when we get into the draft room," scouting director R.J. Harrison said on a conference call.

The Rays hosted a workout at the Trop on Thursday and have scouts at college region playoffs this weekend for final looks.

Harrison said the Rays are prepared for any possibility in terms of players dropping to them and as usual will draft on talent and potential impact rather than positional need.

"I couldn't really characterize (the overall draft pool) as pitching heavy or position-player heavy; I think there's some good options," Harrison said. "It's a decent group, and we feel pretty good about what we're going to be able to do, particularly at 21 and 29."

MISCELLANY: RHP Fernando Rodney had his fourth straight scoreless outing, saying he feels more consistent with command of his fastball and changeup. … OF Matt Joyce hit his ninth homer, one behind team leader Kelly Johnson. … Moore flew to Cleveland Thursday afternoon to be rested for tonight's start. He will make his second attempt to get to 9-0. … Still no comment from suspended prospect OF Josh Sale after his social media post about a strip club incident.

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