Rays Recall Wood, Won’t Rush Archer
The Tampa Bay Rays will have to find a way to cover innings as they have lost another starting pitcher to injury. Wilmer Font departed after injuring his lat during Friday night’s start against the Houston Astros with a lat injury. The injury is expected to sideline Font for eight weeks.
Font Renaissance Hits Roadblock:
The injury was just as devastating to Font as it is to the Tampa Bay Rays who looked to have found a diamond in the rough in the 28 year old righty.
Font was once a promising prospect in the Texas Rangers system. Signed out of Venezuela at age 16 he spent eight years in their system making five appearances spread out between the 2012-2013 seasons. He was non-tendered by the Rangers after the 2014 season and signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds but was released at the end of camp.
With no big league team offering him the opportunity he went to the Canadian American League and pitched the 2015 season with Ottawa Champions. In 2015 he made 20 starts going 10-4 with a 4.09 ERA. No big league teams came calling after the 2016 season, so he returned to Ottawa to open the 2016 season.
Return To MLB:
After 9 starts in 2016 he was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays and reported to New Hampshire, the Jays Double-A affiliate. At the end of the season he signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and with them made his return to the big leagues on September 2nd and finished the season making three appearances.
He opened this season with the Dodgers but was designated for assignment and traded to the Oakland A’s after pitching to an 11.32 ERA spanning six appearances. Things didn’t get better with Oakland where he allowed 11 earned runs over 6.2-innings of work. He was designated for assignment and traded to the Rays on May 25th.
Success With Rays:
Since joining the Rays, he’s appeared in nine games, five starts and has pitched to a 1.67 ERA. His ERA is the third lowest in MLB since May 30th (min. 25 innings) behind Tyler Skaggs of the Angles and Jon Lester of the Cubs.
The lat injury is going to put Font on the shelf for a good amount of time.”We’re going to be optimistic. Eight weeks or something like that.” Manager Kevin Cash said. “He got his lat pretty good so we’re going to miss him.”
“It’s really unfortunate just given the way he’s thrown the ball. How he’s turned around his own personal season. We’ll do everything we can to get him healthy, get him back out on the mound, and build him back up.”
Cash said the team will piece the missing innings together. and not to find a starter to call up from Durham. He hopes that Chris Archer will be back sooner rather than later. Noting that Archer probably has a rehab start or two.
The injury to Font will not force the Rays to rush Archer back to action. “It wont be a factor for him. We’ll go to Arch when Arch feels he’s ready, Kyle [Snyder] feels he’s ready, and Joe Benge feels he’s ready.”
Another player mentioned as a possible candidate to get stretched out is former starter Matt Andriese, but that doesn’t appear likely. “Not Matt Andriese” Cash said. “Andriese has filled his role of staying at two-three inning mix and we don’t want to look to stretch him out and we’ll find other ways to do it.”
Rays Call Up Wood:
To replace Font on the roster, the Rays have called up right handed pitcher Hunter Wood. It will be Wood’s third stint with the Rays this season. Overall, he has gone 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA (14-ER/42-IP) in 24 appearances (2 starts) with the Durham Bulls.
Since returning to Durham on April 27th he’s made 14 appearances (1 start). He pitched to a 1.75 ERA (5-ER/25.2-IP) including 38 strikeouts in those games.
Kevin Cash admits that the Rays have not seen Wood at his best at this level. “He’s thrown the ball really well. His last two outings were two inning thirty pitch outings.” Cash said. “In theory he can get three [innings] and 40 [pitches] or something like that.”
The Rays hope that Wood can provide a little bit of length when needed. He has thrown 2 -3 innings in 9 of his last 14 outings in Durham.
The Rays will more than likely look to Austin Pruitt and Vidal Nuno to provide the multi-innings required while the club waits for the return of Chris Archer. The injuries to the pitching staff have caused more shuffling than the Rays had hoped for. When asked what he wanted out of the next 81-games, Kevin Cash had two things. Stay healthy/get healthier and win some games. Solving the innings dilemma after Font’s injury will go a long way toward satisfying the latter part of Cash’s statement.