Is Jeff Niemann's Injury a Blow to Tampa Bay Rays?

By Richard Churchill
Tampa Bay Rays Jeff Niemann
Mark L. Baer-US Presswire

When Jeff Niemann lost out to Roberto Hernandez in a Spring Training battle for a place on the rotation, his season took an early blow. But after suffering from some shoulder pains, he has been placed on the DL, and the Tampa Bay Rays are now missing a reliever.

Whilst not having made an appearance on the mound this season, Niemann was on the 25-man roster and will need to be replaced. That begs the question of who the replacement be?

With Chris ArcherJake Odorizzi, and Mike Montgomery impressing on the mound in Durham, all three of their names have bandied about as being possible call-ups, with Archer leading the way amongst most fans.

Having said that, Archer, who has already made four starts in the majors, was himself in a battle for the final spot in the Rays’ rotation. Being sent down with a month left in the Spring, the second ranked prospect in Tampa Bay will have felt a knock on his confidence, and it doesn’t look likely he will get the call here.

The Rays have plans for Archer, and they are unlikely to include a stint in the pen. Odorizzi on the other hand, may well see some time in relief this year. Tampa shouldn’t be eager to waste youth prospects unless much needed, and after Brandon Gomes made the pen, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta will remain as set-up men ahead of Fernando Rodney as a closer.

The other aspect of Niemann’s injury is the loss of a potential starter if a member the current rotation was to lose his job due to injury of poor performance. Niemann has experience in the big leagues, and would have filled a hole readily, whilst those on the farm may not.

Whilst not the most integral aspect of the Rays’ roster, Niemann’s injury creates a lack of depth for the club. Seeing how this all plays out will be interesting.

Richard Churchill is a Tampa Bay Rays writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your Google+ network.

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