Traditionalists may never fully embrace the approach, but it’s hard to argue with the results: through a quarter of the season, the Rays’ pitching staff has been lights out. By design, it’s a fluid and ever-evolving mix of hurlers. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times provides an update on some particularly important arms for the AL East-leading team.

Most notably, prospect Brent Honeywell has encountered another hurdle in his effort to return from Tommy John surgery. He’s only slated for a week-long shutdown for nerve irritation in his right elbow, but this isn’t the first setback. The fact that Honeywell’s road back hasn’t been perfectly smooth doesn’t mean he won’t make it, but it does add to the uncertainty and bump back his timeline.

In Topkin’s assessment, the Tampa Bay front office won’t be able to consider Honeywell as a MLB option until July or August. He’s obviously going to be handled with plenty of caution given his high-ceiling billing and hiccups to this point. Honeywell is going to need a full arm build-up and even then will need to show he’s fully ready for the majors, having never yet pitched in the bigs. No doubt the Rays will keep a close eye on his workload even when he is ready for game action. Honeywell hasn’t yet topped 140 innings in a professional season and already missed all of 2018.

Clearly, then, Honeywell won’t be stepping into the opening in the rotation created when Tyler Glasnow
hit the injured list recently. Nobody will, in fact. Skipper Kevin Cash tells Topkin that the club won’t tap a third starter, even on an interim basis. Rather, the club will continue to piece things together on a day-to-day basis behind rotation pieces Blake Snell and Charlie Morton.

Topkin warns not to expect any major acquisitions to plug the openings. Fortunately, Glasnow is said to be looking at an absence of only four to six weeks. That’s about as good an outlook as might have been hoped for when he left with forearm tightness. The injury might knock the 25-year-old out of surprise Cy Young contention, but hopefully won’t spoil his breakout season.

Plus, there are some other hurlers working back. Reliever Hunter Wood is close to being an option again for the MLB roster after hitting the IL with a shoulder issue, though he may take at least one more rehab outing. Wood showed an intriguing 18.0% swinging-strike rate in 6 1/3 innings to open the year. Former top prospect Jose De Leon is ready to move his rehab work to the highest level of the minors after a pair of High-A outings. Given his long and arduous rehab process, the odds are he’ll be given some time to work at Triple-A even when his assignment is up (which must occur on or before June 2). There’s no word yet on when Anthony Banda will be ready to begin his own rehab assignment after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, but he was reportedly throwing from a mound late last month.

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