In what might be considered a brief reprieve for the rest of us, the Rays sent lefty phenom David Price down to AAA Durham to start the season. They clearly want him to be a starter, but don’t want to increase his total innings this year more than 20% above the 123 2/3 he pitched last year. They also believe that they have enough staff options to be competitive this year without him either in the rotation or bullpen. Additionally, pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann are out of options, and the Rays risk losing them if they were to decide to send them to Durham–not unlike the Yanks’ situation with Melky Cabrera.
Gleaned from a good article in The New York Times by Joshua Robinson, this shows that the Yanks’ mindset with gradually increasing Joba’s innings is far from an anomalous approach these days. I’m not quite convinced that the Rays’ pitching will be able to match what they did last year, but I do know they’ll compete, that they have lots of young talent to do so, and that they’ll be ready to repeat with Maddon running things. It sure is a different Rays team from before.