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Rays’ pitching plans more confusing with Michael Wacha sidelined

What already was “creative” and headed toward what manager Kevin Cash called “floating sequencing” will change even more.
Michael Wacha was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday due to right hamstring tightness.
Michael Wacha was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday due to right hamstring tightness. [ FRANK FRANKLIN II | AP ]
Published May 4
Updated May 5

The Rays were already using, to put it politely, a “creative” plan in deploying their pitchers not named Tyler Glasnow and Shane McClanahan.

Now it is about to get even more complicated, with Michael Wacha going on the 10-day injured list Tuesday due to right hamstring tightness.

With Wacha as one of the five starter/bulk-inning pitchers in their rotation, the Rays were talking about employing what manager Kevin Cash called “floating sequencing” determined on an almost day-to-day basis around traditional starts by Glasnow and McClanahan.

That would allow veteran lefty Rich Hill to be used as extended opener, a role he filled Sunday when he worked the first three innings in front of Wacha. Plus, Cash said they were intrigued by the potential to bring Hill back and use him more than once every five days, which would allow them more flexibility with other pitchers in hybrid roles, such as Luis Patino.

But with Wacha out, they now plan to use Hill in a starting role on Friday and will have to further manipulate the options in the bullpen, with Collin McHugh coming off the injured list early to take Wacha’s roster spot.

Ryan Yarbrough and Josh Fleming, two pitchers the Rays consider using openers in front of, are slated to work in some form Wednesday and Thursday. The Rays announced after Tuesday’s 8-3 win over the Angels that Andrew Kittredge will work as the opener on Wednesday.

“We haven’t ironed anything out quite yet,” Cash said before Tuesday’s game in Anaheim, Calif. “But I think our lean would be to just start Rich on the first game in Oakland.”

Wacha’s injury was surprising, surfacing on Monday after he did some usual day-after-pitching running in the outfield.

“He was fine, and then during the game, he felt it kind of tighten up and got concerned,” Cash said. “He went and got treatment and (Tuesday) went out and played catch and just didn’t feel right. We’re hoping that we caught it in time to where it’s just a one-start-type deal. So we’ll just continue to treat it and go from there.”

Adding to the complications is the schedule. The Rays this week are completing a rugged stretch of 30 games in 31 days. Starting Monday, they have five days off among the next 32, which allows for more flexible scheduling.

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