This is the time of spring when Joe Maddon starts to prepare the starting pitchers for the regular season by using them on normal 4-days rest. And by looking at when the starting pitchers are being used now, we can look forward and see who will likely start the first five games of the regular season.
And based on the evidence, this is what the Rays rotation will look like. I will explain how we know this below…
- David Price
- Jeremy Hellickson
- Matt Moore
- Roberto Hernandez
- Alex Cobb
Our first two clues come today and tomorrow. We already know David Price will be the opening day starter. With the Rays having an off-day today, he will pitch in a minor league game. That will keep him on regular rest with three more starts in spring training prior to the opening day spot on April 2.
In addition, we know Jeremy Hellickson will be the no. 2 starter as he will also pitch in a minor league game tomorrow. The Rays play the Orioles tomorrow. And by pitching in the minor league game, the Rays will avoid giving Baltimore hitters a good look at Hellboy. And by pitching tomorrow, Hellickson would be able to pitch in game two of the regular season on regular rest.
Matt Moore will start Friday’s game on four-days rest, which sets him up for the no. 3 spot in the rotation. So far, all of this lines up with what we already knew.
The Wild Card is Saturday’s game. The starter on Saturday will most likely be the Rays’ no. 4 starter. Well, Jeff Niemann is starting the regular game on Thursday in place of Hellickson. And Alex Cobb, who pitched yesterday, won’t be available until Sunday, which would line him up with the no. 5 spot in the rotation.
That leaves Roberto Hernandez to start on Saturday. And by doing so, he will be on schedule to pitch in the fourth game of the regular season. Niemann is the only pitcher that is not lined up for a spot in the first five games.
Of course, this could all change if Hernandez starts to struggle, Niemann starts to dominate, or somebody gets hurt. And that is why Maddon won’t make anything official for a while. But as of now, this is the Rays starting rotation.