Chris Archer

Last week I speculated that Jake Odorizzi would replace the injured Alex Cobb as the Opening Day starter because it would be easier to adjust his schedule (give him one extra day of rest) than to adjust the schedule of Chris Archer (would need to go on short rest).

However, the Rays announced today that Archer, Odorizzi, and Nathan Karns will pitch on Saturday with Archer and Odorizzi working in a minor league game.

This is significant because these are the three starting pitchers that we know will be in the rotation to start the season. This is also weird because pitching on Saturday means all three pitchers would be on normal rest to pitch the second game of the season, not the first, which means even more shuffling is coming with the regular season just around the corner.

Here is the schedule of starters for recent games and the starters for upcoming games that we know about.

  • March 18 — Chris Archer
  • March 19 — Nathan Karns
  • March 20 — Burch Smith and Matt Andriese
  • March 21 — Jake Odorizzi
  • March 22 — Everett Teaford and Mike Montgomery
  • March 23 — Chris Archer (4 days rest)
  • March 24 — Matt Andriese (3 days rest) and Nathan Karns (4 days rest in minor league game)
  • March 25 — Kevin Jepsen
  • March 26 — ? (presumably Matt Andriese on 5 days rest)
  • March 27 — ? (presumably Everett Teaford and/or Mike Montgomery on 4 days rest)
  • March 28 — Nathan Karns (3 days rest), Chris Archer (4 days rest in minor league game), and Jake Odorizzi (6 days rest in minor league game)
  • March 29 — ?
  • March 30 — ?
  • March 31 — ?
  • April 1 —  ?
  • April 2 —  (This would be day of normal rest for Karns, Archer, and Odorizzi)
  • April 3 — ?
  • April 4 — ?
  • April 5 — ?
  • April 6 — OPENING DAY
  • April 7 —  (This would be day of normal rest for Karns, Archer, and Odorizzi)
  • April 8 — ?

So here is what is probably going to happen.

The Rays are likely to have Archer throw just a couple of easy innings in the minor league game on Saturday and then bring him back to start a game on April 1 on short rest. He would then get normal (four days) rest and be able to start on Opening Day.

That April 1 start would probably even come in another minor league game rather than use him on the road against the Yankees on short rest.

It now looks like Karns will be the starter in the second game of the season. Otherwise, why move him up and start him on short rest this Saturday just to give him extra rest later on?

The Rays could then give Odorizzi one extra day of rest, either before his last spring start or prior to his first regular season start which will likely be the third game of the season.

So here is the likely rotation to start the season, keeping in mind the Rays won’t need a fifth starter until the 9th game of the season:

  1. Chris Archer
  2. Nathan Karns
  3. Jake Odorizzi
  4. Matt Andriese
  5. Everett Teaford or Mike Montgomery

Burch Smith, who was recently sent down to minor league camp, should also be considered a possibility for the fifth spot.

Archer is the best pitcher available and deserves the nod. But this also seems like a lot of shuffling of pieces just to get Archer in game one instead of game two. At the end of the day, both games count the same in the standings.

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8 Comments

  1. Geoff Peterson says:

    This may only be weird to you Cork. Most of the national media was predicting Archer to start opening day as soon as Cobb went down.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      You don't think it is strange to alter the preparation of three pitchers two weeks before the season just so Archer can pitch in game 1 instead of game 2 when both count the same in the standings? The national media doesn't think these things through. Usually the Rays do. You know who wouldn't have done this? Joe Maddon.

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      • JAD says:

        And Joe is not here so frankly I could care less what Joe would of done. He did plenty of strange things that most baseball people would not do. He is in Chicago now, we have a new manager who does things HIS way.

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          You don't care? You know what else Joe did? He won a lot of games with teams people thought he had no business winning with. I'm still waiting for Cash to win his first.

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          • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

            I hope Cash doesn't spend his season wondering WWJD, because he shouldn't care what Joe would've done.
            The best available pitcher should get the honor of pitching opening day. It's good for his morale and is a tradition that deserves to be upheld.
            Making these minor tweaks in the schedule 2.5 - 3 weeks in advance is not a big deal, and is a good indicator that Cash and Co. can roll with the punches

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          • Gus says:

            Joe Maddon and his penquins are not coming through that door, as Rick Pitino might say. Time to move on. I actually like what Cash has done this spring. Making KK the CF -- check. Letting Des go back to LF and run -- check. Putting the vet at SS -- check. Giving the Big Tree the ball opening day -- check. It is early, but he has answered all the big questions the right way so far.

            Can't blame the rotation woes on him; hopefully they get off to a good start with all things new.

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      • Ted Sheckler says:

        I don't recall the Rays ever having a problem at the top of the order in spring like this, so we don't really know what Maddon would have done. According to Cash, this alteration was done following a meeting between Hickey, Archer, Odorizzi, and Karns. They all said they wanted to throw on that day, so that's what they are doing. Presumably, they all know which of the first three games they will be pitching. So, I'm going to assume that Hickey and the pitchers have some kind of clue what they're doing. I think at least Hickey deserves that kind of respect by now. Did Joe Maddon usually overrule Jim Hickey regarding pitcher's throwing schedules? If so, my opinion of him as a manager just dropped.

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  2. Gus says:

    Common sense rules. Way to go Hickey and Cash.

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