Cash made it clear that the decision wasn’t “100 percent set in stone,” but that the club is leaning toward going with Snell, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, opener, opener, in that order, to begin the season. With that order, Snell, Morton, Glasnow and an opener would be in line to start the first four games at home against the Astros. It would also give Snell and Morton an opportunity to get two home starts in the first seven games, one against Houston and the other against Colorado.
A big reason why Cash and the Rays are strongly considering that order is because of the team’s first road trip that starts against the Giants in San Francisco. Because it’s in a National League ballpark, Tampa Bay would like to avoid having the pitcher hit in the first couple of innings.
“It helps us on the wraparound when we play in San Francisco,” Cash said. “With the NL game, with the pitcher hitting, where we can avoid some at-bats there. We’re still talking through that, but I know when we go into our first road series in the National League, we would like to have that equation.”
The Rays will be going into the season with a three-man rotation, and they are scheduled to use an opener twice in a five-man rotation. Wilmer Font, Jalen Beeks, Jake Faria, Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos are some of the options for Tampa Bay in the “bulk” role. Ryne Stanek, Diego Castillo, Emilio Pagán, Colin Poche and Hunter Wood are some of the options in the opener role.
As for Snell, he’ll be getting his first Opening Day nod at the big league level. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner led the league with 21 wins and a 1.89 ERA in 2018. Chris Archer, who is now a member of the Pirates, was the team’s Opening Day starter each of the last four seasons.
“It feels good. I’m excited,” Snell said of being named the Opening Day starter. “But I have three weeks to get ready. I’m focused on my next [Spring Training] start and I need to get ready for that. When [Opening Day] comes, I’ll be excited.”
For Cash and the Rays, going with Snell on March 28 against the Astros was a fairly easy decision based on the left-hander’s breakout season.
“I think that was picked in 2018,” Cash laughed. “Is there anyone more deserving in baseball to pitch on that day? We feel fortunate having the guys that are going to be starting, but Blake was a fairly obvious choice.”