Rays 'pen starting to come into focus

Club plans to carry three or four 'bulk' guys on 12-man pitching staff

March 8th, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rays manager Kevin Cash on Friday said that the current plan is for the team to carry 12 pitchers on the Opening Day roster, with three or four being “bulk” guys.

The bulk guy is a term coined for the pitcher who follows the Opener. In an ideal situation, he would give the Rays three to five innings before they shift to the back end of the 'pen. If the Rays do indeed go into the season with three or four bulk guys, that could leave Cash with some interesting decisions about who will be in the bullpen.

“That’s been a big discussion throughout the spring,” Cash said about the number of bulk guys the team will carry. “I think it’s going to be [either three or four], but the off-days and how the schedule works out has an effect on that also.”

Looking at the options
, , , , , and are some of the options on the Rays' roster. Chirinos and Yarbrough appear to be the most secure, which would leave one or two more spots for the bulk role.

Moore and Pruitt are likely to begin in Triple-A Durham, with the opportunity to be called up whenever the team needs a fresh arm. Pruitt bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A last season, finishing with a 4.65 ERA in 23 appearances for the Rays.

Font, who was acquired from Oakland last season, also figures to make the Opening Day roster due to the fact that he is out of options. After he put up a 1.67 ERA in nine appearances last season with the Rays, leaving him off the roster seems unlikely.

That would leave Beeks and Faria likely competing for one slot in the bullpen, but other moving parts -- or continued good performances during the spring -- could result in the team carrying both pitchers on Opening Day. Both have big league experience, and both got experience pitching in relief last season.

Other bullpen options
Some of those moving parts will involve whom the Rays decide on to fill out the bullpen. If they go with four bulk guys to go with their three traditional starters, that would leave five spots remaining. If the Rays decide to keep both Beeks and Faria as bulk guys, that number goes down to four.

, , and appear to be locks. Castillo and Stanek both served as Openers last season, but they could get more late-inning work with last year’s closer Sergio Romo no longer on the team. Alvarado and Roe figure to get most of the save opportunities, but they could also be used earlier in games depending on the matchups.

, , No. 18 prospect Colin Poche, and are some of the options for the remaining spots, with non-roster invitees , and also getting a look.

Cash and the Rays have a little less than three weeks to round up the bullpen situation, but the options are starting to become a bit clearer.