TPR Notebook: Rays Versus Phillies
Notes and thoughts from yesterday’s game.
- Alex Cobb started the game then exited after three innings due to forearm tightness (since identified as tendinitis). He’s almost certain to miss his Opening Day start, meaning 1) the Rays will begin the year with four starting pitchers on the DL, and 2) Nate Karns, who entered spring in pursuit of the no. 5 starter’s spot, is going to pitch in the opening series. No word on potential replacements, but former Padres Matt Andriese and Burch Smith seem like the top internal candidates.
- The Rays haven’t announced anything about their starting middle-infield alignment, but Asdrubal Cabrera began the game at shortstop and would appear to be the logical favorite to enter the season as the starting shortstop. If Cabrera is true to his word, he doesn’t want to flip-flop positions all season. Fair enough. By putting Cabrera at shortstop from the jump, the Rays wouldn’t have to ask him to slide over in case of injury or emergency. Additionally, the Rays could then platoon Nick Franklin without needing Logan Forsythe (or whichever utility infielder gets the task) to man short.
- Speaking of Franklin, he had a brutal game. He continues to display an indecisiveness at the plate, toggling between an approach that’s either too aggressive or too passive. Results-wise, he struck out twice and clanked a high-hopper in the field.
- You almost have to feel for Franklin these days. Before he’d played a game in a Rays uniform, an unnamed team executive said he was the next Ben Zobrist—a brainless and dangerous comparison that burdens any recipient with a near-lethal amount of unrealistic expectations. Franklin didn’t perform well statistically in Durham, and the poor hitting carried over to his September stint in St. Pete. Now, without so much as a good month in the organization to his name, he’s being tasked with playing shortstop, a position that exposes his arm and unnatural movements. For his sake you hope Franklin overcomes and turns into something after all, but it’s hard to have confidence about this situation.
- Mikie Mahtook recorded his first hit of spring, a two-run homer off Neris. Mahtook’s development has taken longer than expected, yet he’s become the well-rounded, versatile outfielder the Rays hoped he would on draft day. He should crack the majors this season.
- Bryce Stowell made his third appearance of the spring. Once upon a time, he was a prospect armed with a power fastball. He doesn’t throw so hard anymore—likely due to various arm-related injuries—but you wouldn’t know it based on his mechanics. Stowell checks off every box for below-average command: stiff front leg, dragging arm, recoil, spinning off, and so on. True to form (at least on Tuesday), he lived up in the zone with his low-90s fastball and couldn’t throw a competitive breaking ball. He’ll spend the year in Durham.