In adding McClanahan, set to make his second start tonight, to the mix, the Rays seemed to have shifted to a six-man rotation of starters/bulk-inning pitchers. Then Sunday, they showed they actually were not, using Rich Hill as an extended opener in working the first three innings, then Michael Wacha, who had a regular turn in the rotation behind him.
Think Rays’ pitching plans are confusing now? Just wait. Cash said they could do that again when that spot comes up Friday. Or they could bring back Hill, the 41-year-old lefty with the rubber arm, sooner and use him more when needed, as they have done with Luis Patino, the hard-throwing right-hander who has worked as an opener and in relief.
“Similar to kind of how we’re having Patino somewhat fluid. We might utilize a little bit of a floating sequencing for some guys on our pitching staff while we’re a little nicked up and we’re working, coming back from injuries. So it’ll be kind of day-to-day discussions.” Cash said what makes it work is that Hill, who threw 44 pitches in allowing one hit and one walk, is willing to be flexible and his arm is able to handle it: “Certainly he’s lucky that he’s got an arm that bounces back. And he’s feeling really good. He really is. That’s encouraging.”
Also of note: this could all change next week as they complete the rugged stretch of 30 games in 31 days and enjoy five off days among the next 32. By then they should have Pete Fairbanks and Collin McHugh back in their bullpen. “I think we definitely could see it again,” Cash said. “I think we could check with Rich and see how he feels bouncing back, and there might be times where we don’t wait for the fifth day to pitch Rich.
Also: ⋅ The 15 strikeouts by the Rays in their 7-3 Monday victory over the Angels were two shy of their most in a nine-inning win (17, done twice on July 28, 2019, at Toronto and May 6, 2000, at Boston) and four from their record in a nine-inning game (19, on Aug. 28, 2019, at Houston).
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano. ⋅ The Rays are expected to activate reliever Fairbanks from the injured list Wednesday. Fairbanks has been out with a shoulder strain since making his third appearance of the season April 6 and is back sooner than initial projections that he could be sidelined into June.
Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook. ⋅ The Rays are expected to activate reliever Fairbanks from the injured list Wednesday. Fairbanks has been out with a shoulder strain since making his third appearance of the season April 6 and is back sooner than initial projections that he could be sidelined into June.
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