@m_weber noticed in today’s paper that Marc Topkin’s roster projection did not include Jeremy Hellickson. That opens up the possibility that Hellickson could start the season on the disabled list since he has been slowed by his hamstring injury. Before you freak out about that, it actually makes a ton of sense thanks to the early season schedule.
The Rays have an off-day on the season’s fourth day in between the opening series against the Orioles and before a small two-game series against the Angels. The additional off-day affords the Rays the luxury of skipping the fifth starter the first time rotation and thus pushing off the need to use Hellickson until April 10th in a road game against the White Sox. The club could put Hellickson on the disabled list by March 26th (earliest date allowed by MLB is March 22nd), and carry an extra reliever for the season’s first eight games and then activate Hellickson the morning of the 10th to make the start against the White Sox. This would not disrupt the rotation or put increased workload on the starting staff as it would allow them to stay on their every fifth day rotation that they become accustomed to within the season and it gives Hellickson another 10-15 days to catch up for the time he has missed since tweaking his hamstring during pitchers’ fielding practice early in camp.
The extra day off early in the season is annoying from a fan’s perspective, but it actually affords the club a nice luxury for early roster flexibility and ensuring a valuable asset is 100% ready to make his first start of the season.