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Rays adjust staff; Snell, Morton set for weekend

@juanctoribio
April 9, 2019

CHICAGO -- With Thursday’s off-day in Toronto, the Rays are able to make a slight adjustment to their pitching plans for the three-game series against the Blue Jays that begins Friday. Instead of going with back-to-back days of using the opener, like they’ve done each of the first two times

CHICAGO -- With Thursday’s off-day in Toronto, the Rays are able to make a slight adjustment to their pitching plans for the three-game series against the Blue Jays that begins Friday.

Instead of going with back-to-back days of using the opener, like they’ve done each of the first two times around the rotation, the Rays will go with an opener for Friday’s series opener and then turn the rotation back around, going with Blake Snell on Saturday and Charlie Morton on Sunday.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the White Sox, the Rays had the lowest starter ERA in the Majors at 1.61. As a team, the Rays rank first with a 1.80 ERA, which is ahead of than the Tigers (2.30) and Blue Jays (2.75), who rank second and third, respectively.

Snell, Morton and Tyler Glasnow are all off to really good starts on the mound, and it has created a bit of a friendly competition throughout the entire pitching staff.

“We’re very competitive with each other, but in a cool way,” Snell said. “It’s fun to see these guys succeed as much as they have been.”

“You see Blake do well, then Charlie is next and then I go, and then everyone is just kind of feeding off of everyone’s emotion,” Glasnow added. “I think everyone just feels that momentum and wants to keep it going.”

It’s a momentum that began in the second half of last season and has carried over through the first 11 games of this season. Since Aug. 1, 2018, the Rays have the best record in the Majors at 44-22.

The Rays know that this level of success is unlikely to hold up through a 162-game season, but the pitching staff has a chance to be one of the best in franchise history. Tampa Bay has three starters who have a plethora of talent and the club has a bullpen that presents a lot of challenges for an opposing lineup.

“We kind of emphasize to them to pitch to their strength as much as possible,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “It’s not so much about the opposition, it’s about finding what makes that individual pitcher good and going out and executing those pitches. And to date, they’ve really done a nice job with that.”

Can the Rays keep this up for the rest of the season?

“We’ll find out,” Glasnow said while laughing.

Wendle update

Joey Wendle, who was placed on the 10-day injured list April 1, won’t join the team on its current road trip. Wendle continues to progress and will likely rejoin the team during the Rays’ next homestand.

“I talked to Joey on the phone today, he was heading to treatment,” Cash said. “He said he was feeling good. The soreness is starting to subside a little bit. He ran on the treadmill a little bit yesterday and I think he’s going to repeat that again today.”

As for Matt Duffy, who started the season on the injured list with a left hamstring injury, he is still not doing baseball activities, but he’s getting closer to doing so. The Rays don’t expect Duffy back until sometime in May.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.