The Tampa Rays will be in the playoffs. The Rays currently have the third-best record in baseball at 84-50 and will use the next few weeks to determine their starting rotation for the playoffs.
We know for sure that Shane McClanahan will be the number one starter. McClanahan, after a rough start to the season, gets better with every start. McClanahan is 9-4 with a 3.59 ERA with 117 strikeouts.
Luis Patino will be the number two starter unless he regresses in his next few starts. Patino is another Rays pitcher that has gotten better the second half of the season. Patino is 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA on the season.
Then it’s anybody’s guess who will be the third and fourth starters. It may depend on the matchups and who the Rays are playing. Kevin Cash has been a master of this all season, putting the right pitcher on the mound for the right situation. I have the utmost confidence that Cash will make the right call in the post-season.
Chris Archer, Ryan Yarbrough, and Josh Fleming are the top three candidates right now. Fleming has struggled in almost every outing and situation that he has been put in recently. I would be a bit apprehensive about having him start a playoff game.
Fleming could maybe work an inning or so in relief, but right now, his performance is not indicating that it should be anything more than that.
Archer has pitched just four games and thrown ten innings on the season. There is a possibility that Archer would start, but that depends on how his arm holds out in September.
That leaves Ryan Yarbrough, who has been the most consistent of the three. Yarbrough has struggled with consistency issues this season, but he has been able to pitch effectively into the middle innings in his last few starts.
One guy I don’t want to see start is Michael Wacha. Yes, Wacha has been decent in his last two outings, pitching into the fifth inning. But Wacha is just 2-4 with a 5.70 ERA on the season.
Wacha may be the guy that faces just one or two batters in certain matchup situations if he makes the post-season roster.
I’m sure the post-season rotation is something the Rays are already talking about and putting a plan together for the post-season.
For now, the Rays need to take it one game at a time. This is without a doubt the best team in Rays history, and they have a chance to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Minnesota Twins will be at the Trop this weekend. Then the Rays will travel to Boston for a three-game series early next week.