ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays feel they have the answer to their bullpen woes: Blake Snell.
Actually, it's the domino effect of adding their top prospect to the rotation, which they will do Thursday when the left-handed rookie is scheduled to make his second big-league start. Snell is needed because Matt Andriese is headed to the bullpen to assume to role Erasmo Ramirez played earlier this season — a pitcher who can get outs and get a lot of them.
Manager Kevin Cash announced the news after Sunday's 5-0 victory against the Astros.
"We think that's going to help us win ball games," Cash said. "Matt's very capable of providing a huge boost in the bullpen. (We) fully understand what he's done as a starter has been tremendous, but we got to think about what we're doing to win ball games. That was our thought process."
Sunday's victory was the seventh in the past nine games for the Rays (29-32). It was one of those rare wins in which Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome were not needed.
Starter Matt Moore pitched seven innings of two-hit ball to give the bullpen a break. Add Chris Archer's 72/3 innings in Saturday's game and the Rays pen will be in good shape after today's off day when they open a three-game series with the Mariners.
The Rays feel it will be in even better shape with Andriese, who at 5-0 with a 2.82 ERA leads the rotation in wins and ERA. He also has the lone complete game-shutout on the staff.
"I have some mixed feelings, obviously," Andriese said. "But I think overall for the team it's going to be good. I still see myself as a starting pitcher, but in the meantime I'm going to go down to the bullpen and give them some extra length."
Snell, the consensus 2015 minor-league player of the year, made his major-league debut April 23 at New York. He allowed two hits and a run, struck out six and walked one in five innings. Snell was needed for just that spot start and was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after the game.
Cash would not comment on if Snell will remain in the rotation for an extended period. But with the deadline for Super Two eligibility having passed — delaying Snell's eligibility for salary arbitration — why wouldn't the Rays keep him in the big leagues as long as he pitches well?
"We'll get through one start and then kind of see where it goes from there," Cash said.
Andriese, who was informed of the move Sunday morning, pitched in relief last season for the Rays. He was 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA and two saves in 17 appearances. Both saves were three-inning stints.
"I think that's what kind of made it easy for them to decide, because I've been in that situation before and I've handled the bullpen before," he said. "It would be a little bit different having someone else down there, but I think overall for the team, I think it's going to be a good deal. It could be for a short amount of time. Who knows how long, but for the time being it'll be all right."