Inbox: How will Rays' 4-man rotation play out?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans

April 12th, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)David Banks/AP

I'm miffed by this whole four-man rotation -- that turned into a three-man rotation after 's injury -- supported by bullpen days. Why can't the Rays just go with a traditional approach? Insert either , , , or into the rotation.

-- Tim H., Tampa, Fla.

I don't believe you're the only one wondering what the Rays are doing. I'm not necessarily down on the move; rather, I'm interested in how it's going to play out. You see this type of thing work out in the postseason, but there are 162 regular-season games. And the way Chirinos has pitched, I do believe we'll see him slip into the rotation soon.

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I observed how quickly breezed through the Rays' farm system, and I wondered if Tampa Bay didn't move him up a little too fast. I didn't like what I saw from Snell for the most part last season, then he finished the season strong. I read about him during Spring Training, and from all reports, he had started to look like the guy who breezed through the Minor Leagues. I couldn't really believe it until I saw him start Tampa Bay's second game of the season. Now I'm all in. I think Snell is going to have a big year. What do you think?

-- Jerry R., Orlando, Fla.

Snell indeed finished strong at the end of the 2017 season, and he did have a nice spring. And save for his start in New York, he's looked great this season. So I'm going to hop aboard the bandwagon with you. I think Snell could have a nice season.

I like what I've seen from our pitching thus far, even the bullpen days. What's got me more concerned is this year's team's inability to score runs. I know that last year we struck out a lot. But we always had the chance to erase a lead with a few homers. I hope I'm not just being a worrier. What do you think about our offense?

-- Bill D., Tampa, Fla.

While it's true that the Rays don't have the home run hitters they had in 2017, I think they have an group that makes better contact and has more speed. Let's give the offense a few more weeks before we push the panic button.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw on Opening Day. I had not seen him play since last year and he looks like he weighs a lot less. He did lose weight, right? And if he did, did he consciously decide to do so?

-- Paul R., Tampa, Fla.

You are correct, Paul. Robertson has lost weight, to the tune of about 15 or 20 pounds. He's happy about the weight he lost and says he feels better at the lighter weight. Rays manager Kevin Cash told us early in the spring that they had wanted Robertson to get some winter ball at-bats following the 2017 season. But Robertson asked if he could concentrate on getting his body where he wanted to. Tampa Bay gave him the green light, and both parties were happy with the results.

Chris Archer always seems to pitch just well enough to lose. If the Rays' offense isn't working, he holds the other team to two or three runs. If Tampa Bay's offense is scoring, he lets the other team outscore them. I just don't get the whole "face of the team" or the contention he is an elite pitcher. Elite pitchers win ballgames. Am I being too tough on Archer?

-- Douglas C., Clearwater, Fla.

Maybe a little bit hard. But you're not the first to write me and express the fact you'd like to see Archer win more games than he loses. He was asked a question similar to what you asked prior to the first game and wasn't that pleased with the question. I think he needs to win more games than he loses to end the narrative. I'll say this about Archer, though. He works hard and does everything he can to be competitive. I don't know if having more losses than wins is more Archer's fault or the team's for not backing him.