Dec. 12, 2017
Rays begin bullpen rebuild for 2018
The Rays have a lot of work to to rebuil the bullpen as they ready plans for the 2018 season.
With the trade of Brad Boxberger, the Rays lost their key set-up man and a guy who could also close out games. The Rays also elected not to bring back Sergio Romo, Tommy Hunter, and Steve Cishek. If you believe the rumors, Alex Colome will not be on the opening day roster in 2018 As the Rays continue their payroll purge. Colome led the Majors in saves last year and was selected for the all star team.
The Rays had a patchwork bullpen last season when Boxberger was out the first half of the season. The shuttle between Durham and Tampa was running non stop as the Rays brought pitchers up and them sent them down trying to find someone who could be consistent and be counted on to get some outs.
The Rays used 23 relief pitchers last year and will probably use just as many or more in 2018. Kevin Cash has said that he wants the starters to pitch less innings and turn the game over to the bullpen in the 6th and 7th innings. It sounds like this will be a normal occurrence regardless of who is the starting pitcher be it Chris Archer or Jacob Faria.
Matt Andriese and Dan Jennings will be back to anchor the new look pen. Get used to seeing a lot of new faces and some retuning faces as well. Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, Austin Pruitt and Andrew Kittredge are just a few of the guys that should find a spot in the pen next season.
Also don’t count out Ryne Stanek, Jamie Schultz, and Adam Kolarek who had a stint or two with the Rays last season.
Should Colome go, The Rays will need to find a new closer. The Rays may opt to bring a veteran in on a short-term deal until the new crop of relievers is ready for such a role. Jose De Leon who was acquired from the Dodgers last off-season has been talked about in a closer role. The Rays will need to make sure that De Leon is healthy after his injury plagued season at Durham. He will get a long look at making the roster in 2018.
It will be a transition year for this Rays team and especially in the bullpen. The Rays have been touting all the young pitching talent that they have been stockpiling in their minor league system the last few years, and now it is time to see if these kids can get it done at the big league level.