The Rays’ unique starting rotation and O’s that are trending up

Well, it is not a four-man rotation in the traditional sense that the club will use only four starters, but the Tampa Bay Rays will use four starters and then a bullpen game every fifth day this season.

This is the plan, according to their manager Kevin Cash. In this story in the Tampa Bay Times, Cash said his four main starters will be Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Faria. On the fifth day, the Rays will fill in with several multi-inning relievers, and they will not name one pitcher as their regular fifth starter.

So why make such a move?

“It’s a reflection of who we have available,” Cash said. “We feel like we have a lot of good pitchers and we want to get them all their reps and not limit somebody, not get use out of that guy that gets kind of odd man out by not being in the rotation.”

No doubt the Rays will need some optionable bullpen pitchers and may have a busy shuttle moving during the year between Triple-A and the majors.

They’ll surely need that for an instance when the day before a planned bullpen game they need multiple innings from that same ‘pen.

One benefit of the Rays’ scheme could be better results than teams that do use a specific fifth starter. That is, every other team. Maybe in using several relievers in two- and three-inning stints they get better results than a fifth starter trying to negotiate his way into the sixth or seventh every fifth day.

The Rays were planning to use this strategy early in the year and into early May due to a large number of off days. Now they plan to try it for all 162 games.

It sure sounds interesting. Soon we will see if it actually can work. Cash was asked if this was the Rays being innovative?

“Only if it works. If it doesn’t, it’s dumb,” he said.

machado-running-white-sidebar.jpgMeanwhile in Sarasota: In no particular order, here are a few Orioles trending up through the first half of spring training.

* Manny Machado, who is batting .556. Is he energized by the move to short?

* Tim Beckham - so far, so good at third base.

* Danny Valencia, who is 4-for-9 with three doubles and a homer in his first three games since signing a minor league contract.

* Andrew Cashner, who is breaking bats in simulated games and impressing his teammates already with his leadership potential.

* Tanner Scott, who has thrown three scoreless innings without a walk in spring games. He’s probably behind others for a lefty role in the bullpen come opening day, but he’s done well in the few chances he’s gotten to date.

* Anthony Santander, who is batting .333 with two homers and getting nice reviews so far from skipper Buck Showalter. If he is not on the opening day roster, it will be a big surprise.

This is just a partial list. Who makes your list?

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