Cork Gaines over at Rays Index has an interesting piece about what the Rays are preparing to do with their stockpile of starting pitchers. As we all know, beyond the starting five, Jeremy Hellickson and his 5-0 record waits in Durham. Cork suggests that the Rays may very well trade someone from their current rotation, and speculates that it will end up being either Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann.
I wrote last season, and still feel today, that there’s a scenario where Jeff Niemann becomes the closer after this season. What’s better than an imposing guy the size of Niemann strolling in to save the game. And, it’s not like he doesn’t have the stuff to do the job.
For what it’s worth, Jeff Niemann is at his best in his first inning of work. To start the game, he carries a 1.95 ERA and holds hitters to a .215 batting average. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily translate to how a pitcher prepares to close a game, but it is an indication that he’s at his strongest early in his appearance.
What remains fairly certain is that the Rays will be looking for a closer after this season. Rafael Soriano is here on a one-year contract, and it’s very unlikely he’ll be resigned next season. All I’m saying is it’s worth considering.