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Chris Archer to start Rays' opener as rotation set

Chris Archer will start his third straight season opener for the Rays, facing the Yankees on April 2 at Tropicana Field.
Chris Archer will start his third straight season opener for the Rays, facing the Yankees on April 2 at Tropicana Field.
Published Mar. 24, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE — Chris Archer laid out his schedule for the rest of spring training Thursday morning. It included a three-inning outing Tuesday, and then?

"I'm not sure yet. I haven't done the math," he said.

He was joking.

Archer will make his third consecutive opening day start April 2 against the visiting Yankees. No surprise there.

And there are no surprises in the order that follows: Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Blake Snell and Matt Andriese.

Manager Kevin Cash announced the rotation after Thursday's 5-5 tie with the Yankees. He said it is not based on matchups versus teams the Rays will face during the first month of the season, something the team has done before.

"(Pitching coach Jim Hickey) put it together," Cash said. "We talked about it briefly."

Having Cobb in the third spot means he will face the Yankees during his first two starts, including the Yankees' home opener April 10.

Cash said that setup will be a good gauge for Cobb, who returned in September from Tommy John elbow surgery.

"That team (Yankees) is going to be good. They're all going to be good that first month," Cash said.

The Rays open with 14 consecutive games against American League East rivals New York, Toronto and Boston, then visit Baltimore during the final week of April.

Cash said that having Cobb third has more to do with Odorizzi moving to the No. 2 spot. Odorizzi was the only member of the rotation last year to have a winning record, positing a 10-6 mark with a 3.69 ERA while setting career highs in starts (33) and innings pitched (187.2).

"I think he's definitely earned it," Cash said. "He's had a solid couple of seasons here. I think he fits the bill to slide right in there behind 'Arch.' "