As long as I remember,
The rain’s been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’,
Confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages,
Tryin’ to find the sun.
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain.
— John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival
The Tampa Bay Rays suffered yet another tough blow on the eve of Opening Day, as news broke Wednesday that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will open the season on the disabled list. Limited loose bodies have been in found in Eovaldi’s right elbow which will require arthroscopic surgery, according to Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times). Yet there is good news, the ligament structure in his elbow is sound, although it is concerning to hear that he will end up under the knife once again.
The Rays had already lost right-handers Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon to UCL tears, requiring Tommy John surgery, this spring, and losing Eovaldi from the rotation is yet another big hurdle to overcome.
Tampa Bay is hopeful that Eovaldi could still be a candidate to pitch for the Rays at some point this season, depending on the severity of the injury and subsequent surgery. Some estimates have him back with the team in 6-to-8 weeks, so sometime around June.
The right-hander joined the organization during the 2016 offseason on a two-year, $4-million deal that allowed him to rehab throughout the 2017 season, with the hope that he would bounce back in 2018. Eovaldi had looked good this Spring, and last pitched on Monday against the Tigers in a solid outing where his fastball was clocked as high as 98 mph in his final inning of work. It isn’t known when he started to have the new issue with the elbow.
Tampa Bay has been planning an interesting approach to the pitching staff this season — a hybrid four-man rotation wherein the fifth starter’s role would be a mix of relievers. Eovaldi was projected to be the number three starter in the rotation, but it now appears that right-hander Jacob Faria will be bumped up to start against Boston on Sunday. The Rays have added Austin Pruitt to take Eovaldi’s place on the roster, but may put him in bullpen. It is unclear whether he or Matt Andriese will take Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation.
The team is listing TBD as starters for Saturday against Boston and Monday in New York.
Eovaldi was vying to beat the odds and join a small group of hurlers who made it back as starters after a second Tommy John surgery. Only two pitchers, Chris Capuano and Tyler Chatwood, have defied the odds and made more than 15 starts. Eovaldi’s contact has incentives related to relief appearances should he return in that role later this season.
— Per Topkin, the Rays formally released RHP Daniel Hudson, paying him $4.5-million to not pitch for them after acquiring him and prospect INF Tristan Gray from Pittsburgh for OF Corey Dickerson.