The Tampa Bay Rays enter the season with the current AL Cy Young winner in their rotation, but after James Shields was dealt to the Kansas City Royals in the off-season, David Price will carry a heavier load in 2013.
Of course, his workload won’t increase per se, but he will be relying on Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore to pick up the slack left by Shields’ departure.
Replacing him in the rotation will be Roberto Hernandez , who won a Spring Training battle against Jeff Niemann, who in turn takes a place in the bullpen. Niemann won’t see much time at the plate in relief, however, and will most certainly be in the background if a spot should open up.
Of course, Price is an out-and-out ace, and will likely provide the Rays with more than 16 wins this season. While his performance can be relied upon, it is difficult to argue that Hellickson, Moore, Hernandez or the fifth starter Alex Cobb can guarantee solidity.
Hellickson and Moore are two of the most exciting young pitchers in MLB and should give the Rays quality starts throughout the season, yet there are worries over Cobb after Spring Training.
Having said that, it could just as easily go the other way, and if he can stay consistent, Cobb will surely grow in confidence, especially behind a rotation that has the ability to lead the Rays a long way this season.
Overall, with Price leading the pitchers forward, Tampa Bay should look to their rotation as one that could be in the upper echelons of MLB this year, and when you look to Hellickson and Moore to further develop into the stars that can easily become, it could well be a great year on the mound in Tampa Bay.