Jamal has been a writer for Bleacher Report since 2010 focused strictly on the Rays. He has had his work featured on websites such as Forbes, USA Today, CBS Sports, Houston Chronicle and the LA Times. Jamal is a special correspondent for 620wdae.com covering the Tampa Bay Rays.



Who do the Rays have available if another starting pitcher gets injured before Jeremy Hellickson returns?

That question almost got answered when Rays’ pitcher Matt Moore had a line drive come screaming back at his face in Sunday’s spring training game against the Boston Red Sox. Moore appears to be okay following the incident that resulted in a bloodied lip that required stitches.

Luckily for Moore and the Rays, the X-Rays came back negative and he has no signs of concussion. This incident does serve as a reminder that you can never have enough starting pitching.

We are only days removed from the announcement that Jake Odorizzi will be the Rays’ fifth starter to begin the season after competing with Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos for the role. Following the decision, Bedard was released by the team and Ramos will be returning to the bullpen as a long reliever.

Although Ramos was in the running for the fifth starter position, it would not be a good move him if another starter needs an extended replacement due to injury. He is the only long reliever the Rays have on their roster and is an essential component if a starter has a rough start and needs to be pulled early in games.

This means the best solution would come from a now depleted Triple-A staff.

With Odorizzi already filling in for Hellickson, Alex Colome would have been a strong candidate to be the “next man up” to fill a void in the rotation. However, Colome’s 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug removes him as an option as well.

This leaves two Triple-A pitchers in Enny Romero and Nate Karns for the Rays to choose from if another pitcher goes on the disabled list. 

Karns has started three games in his career, all for the Washington Nationals in 2013. In his 12 innings pitched, he had a 7.50 ERA. He allowed 17 hits and 10 earned runs and finished with a 0-1 record in the three starts.

Karns has never pitched at the Triple-A level. This makes it unlikely, based on the team’s track record with prospects, that he would be fast-paced to the majors to fill-in for an early season injury. T

That leaves Romero.

Romero made his major-league debut with the Rays last September. He finished his only start in the majors with a 0.00 ERA after giving up one hit and four walks over 4.2 innings. 

This spring, Romero only pitched in two games before being sent to minor league camp. In his limited work, he allowed only two hits and a walk in two innings of relief.

Prior to his major league debut, Romero sent the Rays a tweet from his @EnnyRomeroTB Twitter account stating he was available if his services were needed following a Friday game. The team answered and he made his debut that Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles. 

If another pitcher goes down, he might need to have his Twitter account and luggage ready as he would be the team’s best option to fill-in.