After a trial run last weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to use an “opener” all weekend against the Orioles.
As they struggle to fill out a five-man starting rotation, the Tampa Bay Rays have used “bullpen games” all season. But they took it on a tangent last weekend, starting reliever Sergio Romo against the Los Angeles Angels in back-to-back games. A win and a loss later, Romo was doing what he was tasked with and delivered two scoreless appearances (2.1 innings).
Jake Faria was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a left oblique strain after leaving his start Tuesday night, so the Rays are down another starter. That means they’re going to get creative with their pitching again this weekend.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will start a reliever in all three games of a weekend series at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Romo will start on Friday and Sunday, with Ryne Stanek getting the nod on Saturday.
Romo was deployed as the starter against a right-handed heavy Angels’ lineup last Saturday and Sunday. The Orioles are similar, with Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop hitting 1-2-3-4 most of the time this season. Romo is holding right-handed hitters to a .702 OPS this season, so he makes sense.
But Stanek will be making his first major league start, and he has a 5.76 ERA over 27 appearances for the Rays since he debuted last year. He is allowing a .250/.308/.750 slash-line (1.058 OPS) to right-handed hitters so far this season, over a small sample (13 plate appearances) but not particularly good either. But he has only throw 29 pitches over 1.1 innings in the last week, so being a fresher arm probably stands as the most logical reason Stanek will start on Saturday.
How manager Kevin Cash will fill the remaining innings this weekend is not clear. But Ryan Yarbrough pitched well following Romo last Saturday, so he may do the same on Friday night. Matt Andriese, Anthony Banda and Jose Alvarado got pieces of last Sunday’s game behind Romo, and Andriese and Banda have not pitched since. Vidal Nuno, who has promoted from Triple-A to replace Faria on the roster, will probably be in the mix this weekend too.
Driven in part by necessity, and in part to get the most of out of the pitchers they do have, the Rays used Romo as an “opener” last weekend. That necessity got greater this week with Faria hitting the DL. So as could be expected, the outside the box deployment of pitchers is ramping up this weekend.