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Rays’ Chris Archer heads to disabled list; roster-replacement possibilities intriguing

Rays pitcher Chris Archer is going on the 10-day disabled list with a left abdominal strain. [Getty Images]
Published Jun. 6, 2018

WASHINGTON — Even with the news being good and the prognosis for an absence of a couple of weeks max, having Chris Archer join the parade of pitchers serving time on the disabled list made Tuesday a bad day for the Rays.

"You hate to say you're getting used to it, but you kind of are,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "It stinks because we're built so heavily around pitching, starting pitching. Maybe we haven't done our best to this point in that department, but we know that we've got a special group, and we've lost out on winning ball games by not having some of those guys.

"That's gone on now for one, two, three, four years now where it seems like we've been impacted by missing a starting pitcher. But I am optimistic that 'Arch' is not going to be gone too long.''

That Archer was diagnosed with only a left abdominal strain, and that the plan is to give him 2-3 days' rest, then start a throwing program with the idea he misses only a couple of starts, is indeed promising.

"Considering all the possibilities, I think it was the best scenario outside of being healthy,'' Archer said. "The main thing now is I need to rest. … (It's) just wear and tear. I've been doing this for a long time without stopping. I think my body is just telling me maybe you need to slow down for 7-10 days and hopefully pick right back up where I left off.''

What the Rays did to replace Archer in the rotation made sense. Matt Andriese will move into his slot, though Cash said — as is the Rays way — that didn't mean he would necessarily start Friday but could follow an "opener" and work the bulk of the innings.

But what the Rays did to replace Archer on the roster was intriguing and more than a hint of a sign that some interesting days are ahead, potentially soon.

That's because in calling up hard-throwing reliever Diego Castillo, they seemed to break the seal on promoting the group of top-notch prospects at Triple-A Durham, something they had been waiting to do until after the unofficial deadline to avoid Super 2 arbitration eligibility.

Tuesday was the 69th day of the season, so a player who was called up and stays up the next two seasons would have 2 years and 118 days of service time, which should be safe to avoid the extra and early year of arbitration that can cost a team millions.

Who will be next?

Here's a guess on Jake Bauers.

Brad Miller's inexcusable error at first base Sunday didn't seem to be just a big reason the Rays lost that game, but it might have been among his final acts with the team.

Consider that the Rays were facing one of the game's top right-handers, the Nationals' Max Scherzer, on Tuesday and, playing without a DH under National League rules, Cash opted to bench Miller and play righty-hitting C.J. Cron, with plans to do so again Wednesday.

And that his explanation on why was short and only somewhat cryptic:

"C.J. deserves to play.''

That would imply Miller, who rapped a two-run, pinch-hit double in the eighth, no longer does.

If the Rays could, they would trade Miller. If not, and it won't be easy, maybe he gets released, or sent to the minors, hitting .243 with five homers and a .726 OPS.

Like Miller, Bauers is a lefty-hitting first baseman. He was solid last year at Triple-A Durham, establishing himself as ready for a shot in the majors.
But when the Rays made the somewhat surprising, and now obviously regrettable, decision to tender a contract to Miller — who was coming off a bad 2017 and undergoing offseason surgery — and to pay him $4.5 million, Bauers was sentenced back to start his year at Triple A.

He wasn't happy about it, but he knew how it worked, kept his head down and his mouth shut. He has played well there, hitting .279 with five homers, 24 RBIs and a .784 OPS. And now it seems like he will be the next one to get his chance, and soon.

Shortstop Willy Adames, who had a three-day cameo last month, might not be far behind. Infielder Christian Arroyo, already here filling injured Adeiny Hechavarria's spot, might get to stay or return soon if he's sent back.

Castillo will bring the heat, especially a high-octane fastball. He had a 1.03 ERA in 19 games at Durham this year, striking out 32 in 26⅓ innings, allowing a .167 average. Cash said he will get the chance to pitch in high-leverage, late-inning situations.

"A guy we've talked about for quite some time in the organization,'' Cash said. "A special, special pitcher with what he's done in Double A, Triple A, his progression. It's his time.''

He's not the only one whose time has come.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

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