Rays to start relievers in all three games of series vs. Orioles
The Tampa Bay Rays will ramp up their use of relievers as starters this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles, with plans to start a reliever in all three games at Tropicana Field.
Right-hander Sergio Romo, who opened two games last weekend, will get the ball first on Friday and Sunday, and righty Ryne Stanek will start Saturday's game. After an inning or two in each game, the team's nominal starters will follow, with lefty Ryan Yarbrough scheduled for Friday, lefty Anthony Banda on Saturday and righty Austin Pruitt on Sunday.
Romo started last Saturday and Sunday -- his first two starts in 590 career appearances -- against the Los Angeles Angels, pitching a combined 2 1/3 innings without giving up a run or a hit while striking out six and walking two. The Rays split the two games.
"Hey guys, I'm starting again," Romo said to reporters with a smile on Thursday. "It's fun. We're trying to win ballgames. I'm going to try and do my best to make them look like geniuses."
Manager Kevin Cash began the experiment to get through the opponents' top hitters before handing the game off, ideally giving the "starter" an advantage on the second and third times through the lineup.
"We're not trying to do anything that's cute," he said. "We're trying to do something that's right for us to win games."
Some have been opposed to the strategy, with Angels third baseman Zack Cozart calling it "weird" and "bad for baseball."
The Rays' rotation has been hit hard by injuries this season, and that continued Wednesday when right-hander Jake Faria went on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained left oblique. Left-hander Vidal Nuno was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill his roster spot.
Reinforcement could come from righty Nathan Eovaldi next week. The 28-year-old could make his season debut on Monday or Tuesday after recovering from a surgery that removed lose bodies from his throwing elbow, which has twice undergone Tommy John surgery.