The Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching rotation heading into the 2014 season may be the team’s best in recent memory. Headlined by David Price, their rotation also features young talent including Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jeremy Hellickson. The Rays saw their rotation decimated by injury last season as each pitcher suffered an injury at some point during the season.
Price missed some time with a triceps strain that bothered him during several points of the season. Moore suffered through elbow inflammation, Cobb was hit in the head with a line drive that set him back a few months and Archer suffered an ankle injury while he was still in Triple-A. Hellickson most recently tops off this long list of injuries as he underwent arthroscopic surgery in his elbow at the end of January. He is expected to miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season, and the Rays are hoping that he will be back sometime in May. Jake Odorizzi, the Rays’ No. 1 prospect, will take his spot in the rotation while he recovers. Despite these injuries to the rotation, they still managed to make the playoffs only to fall to the eventual World Series Champion Boston Red Sox in the divisional round.
Hellickson has a history of injuries throughout his career with this one being the most severe. He had an impressive (although short) 2010 rookie campaign, going 4-0 in four starts for the Rays. He followed that up with a 13-10 record to go along with a 2.95 ERA in 2011 and a 10-11 record (3.10 ERA) in 2012. 2013 was notably his worst year of his career to date, posting a 5.97 ERA and going 12-10 in 31 starts. He was demoted from the starting rotation toward the end of the season.
Despite his struggles last season, Hellickson is crucial to the Rays’ starting rotation. If he can have successful rehab on his elbow and return to the team in May, the Rays will have one of the most talented rotations in all of baseball.