Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Who will replace Niemann in the rotation? Cobb?
Posted May 15, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated May 15, 2012 at 12:17 AM
TORONTO It was too soon Monday night for the Rays to name a replacement in the rotation for Jeff Niemann since they had only recently learned the big right-hander would mist at least four to six weeks and possibly more after suffering a small fracture to his right fibula just above his ankle.
Also, they won’t need to fill Niemann’s turn in the rotation until Saturday.
Manager Joe Maddon made it sound as if Wade Davis is not an option to come out of the bullpen and rejoin the rotation.
“I really like what he’s doing in that role,” Maddon said.
Davis pitched two innings of shutout ball Monday as the bullpen picked up the final eight innings if the Rays 7-1 win. But Maddon was talking more about what Davis did in Texas earlier this season when he entered in the eighth inning and worked out of a tough jam to help the Rays beat the Rangers.
Alex Cobb, who was 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts for the Rays in 2011 and who spent two days with the team in April as long man insurance in the bullpen, appears to be the likely candidate.
Cobb is 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA in eight starts for the Triple A Durham Bulls. But that high ERA comes from being roughed up in a pair of starts – seven runs in 1 2/3 innings at Syracuse and six runs in four innings at Norfolk. Take away those two outings and Cobb has a 1.80 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of the other six starts.
Cobb seems better suited to replace Niemann than anyone else in the organization. His presence would really turn the Rays rotation into a young staff. Jeremy Hellickson is only in his second full season in the big leagues and the struggling Matt Moore is a rookie.
Niemann’s injury reaffirms the decision by executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman to not deal from depth and trade a starting pitcher during the offseason.