Rays Notes: Yarbrough, Sanders, Franco

Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough is going to start tonight’s game against the Athletics, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The southpaw has yet to make his season debut, as he landed on the injured list in April with groin tightness.

On a Tampa Bay team that frequently rotates players on and off the roster, Yarbrough has been one of the more consistent members of the club. Over the four seasons beginning in 2018, he’s appeared in 107 games, throwing 499 2/3 innings with an ERA of 4.30. He doesn’t miss a ton of bats, as evidenced by his 19.5% career strikeout rate. However, he’s limited walks to a career rate of 5.2% and has also been good at limiting hard contact.

The Rays have a decent number of potential starting pitchers on the injured list right now, including Shane Baz, Tyler Glasnow, Brendan McKay and Luis Patino. The club has already resorted to a few of their patented bullpen games to get through the first month of the schedule. A healthy and effective Yarbrough could be a valuable stabilizing force for a staff that’s been heavily worked in the season’s early going.

When Yarbrough comes off the IL, he might be switching places with righty Phoenix Sanders, reports Topkin. Sanders threw an inning in last night’s game and was supposed to head back out for a second until an issue with his back arose, according to manager Kevin Cash. Sanders, who turns 27 next month, is in his first MLB season and is off to a good start. Through 10 innings on the year, he has a 1.80 ERA, with nine strikeouts and just two walks.

As for Wander Franco, he’s been dealing with some hamstring tightness that kept him out of Sunday’s game. The issue doesn’t seem to be overly serious, as he was back in the lineup on Monday. The club tried to convince him to avoid running hard when possible, which he’s found difficult. “The coaches have said that to me,” Franco tells Topkin, “but (running hard) is definitely the way I’ve played since I was a kid, and that’s the form I’m going to play.” In last night’s game, Franco spent some time on the basepaths after hitting a couple of singles. He was pinch-hit for in the ninth inning, though the Rays were already up 6-1 at the time. Signed to an 11-year extension in the offseason, Franco figures to be the face of the Rays for the next decade-plus. The hamstring issue doesn’t seem to have hurt his bat at all, as he’s currently hitting .322/.341/.575 on the season, good enough for a wRC+ of 174.

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