Friday, May 2, 2008

Who wants to mess with this pitching staff?

This whole Scott Kazmir-coming-off-the-DL-and-someone-has-to-leave-the-rotation thing kind of had me worried, because, and I know this sounds very weird when talking about Tampa Bay’s pitching, but here goes: Do you really want to mess with this pitching staff?

The bullpen is the best in baseball and the starting rotation is among the best in the American League, and yes, we are still talking about the Rays.

Kazmir’s return for Sunday’s start in Boston means someone has to leave the rotation and the likely candidate is Jason Hammel, but he is out of minor league options, meaning he would have to clear waivers before the Rays could send him to Triple A Durham, and they wouldn’t want to risk that, so they would shift Hammel to the bullpen.

The odd-man out there would be J.P. Howell, since Hammel would fill Howell’s role of long-man. But one reason why the bullpen has been this good has been Howell’s ability to eat innings on those rare occasions when a starter falters, like Hammel did Tuesday in Baltimore.

Knowing this, the Rays might have looked for another starter to send to Durham, and that would have been Andy Sonnanstine, because he still has options.

But Sonnanstine has been more than solid, following his one bad outing with three great outings, including a complete-game shutout.

So moving Sonnanstine would not only have been unfair to Sonnanstine, it would have been unfair to the team.

But, and maybe this is a sign the Rays are finally catching some breaks, reliever Gary Glover has a sore shoulder, which means he will be placed on the disabled list in a move that will open a spot on the pitching staff for Kazmir and one in the bullpen for Hammel.

Isn’t it amazing how things are falling in place for this team?

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