As spring training gets under way in Port Charlotte, the Tampa Bay Rays return all five starting pitchers from 2019 and they are fully healthy as they begin preparations for the 2020 season.
The Rays finished with the best ERA in the American League last season with a 3.65 ERA, and that was good for second in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Charlie Morton, the Rays best starter in 2019 and a finalist for the Cy Young award returns to lead one of the best rotations in baseball behind the Yankees, Dodgers, and Nationals.
Morton went 16-6 last season with a 3.05 ERA with 254 strikeouts in 194 innings pitched.
The Rays rotation last season outside of Morton was patched together as Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow spent considerable time on the DL.
With Snell and Glasnow fully healthy, the Rays are expecting big things from this starting rotation.
The Rays used Robinson Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough as spot starters, and also employed the opener strategy where Jalen Beeks,Andrew Kittredge, Diego Castillo, Trevor Richards were all used to open games last season.
Brendan McKay started 11 games last season and could also be a candidate to make the team out of spring training this season.
The Rays are expected to go with a rotation of Morton, Snell, Glasnow, Yarbrough, and Chirinos to start the 2020 season.
That means the opener strategy will likely be put on the shelf, at least temporarily.
Kevin Cash did say that the opener strategy will probabaly be employed at some point this season, but would not anything definite until mid to late March.
With the trade of closer Emilio Pagan, the Rays will have to find someone from the likes of Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe, Diego Castillo, and Jose Alvarado to close out games.
With Alvarado having his personal issues behind him, and his parents now safely in Florida he could emerge again as a candidate to close out games.
Kevin Cash will probably go with a closer by committee approach to start the season till someone takes a hold of the role.
Prospect Brent Honeywell was expected to be a fixture in the rotation by this time in his career, but injuries have derailed his career the last two years and he will be at Port Charlotte again working on getting his arm strength back and begin the season at Durham.
Honeywell should get a chance to pitch with the big league club at some point during the season, providing he can stay healthy.
The Rays will begin spring training on Saturday when the team travels to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox.