Rays send Jake McGee to minors, call up Alex Cobb for spot start Sunday

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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays have sent Jake McGee to Triple-A Durham and called up Alex Cobb to start Sunday’s series finale against the Angels.

The Rays need a spot starter for Sunday because of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Twins.

McGee, 24, made the Rays out of spring training, but posted a 5.84 ERA and 2/3 K/BB ratio over his first seven innings. While he’s still considered the closer of the future in many circles, Rays manager Joe Maddon told J.B. Long of Bright House Sports Network that he wants the young left-hander to get more work in the minor leagues.

Cobb, a 23-year-old right-hander, has a 3.10 ERA over parts of six seasons in the minors, averaging 7.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. The former 2006 fourth-round pick has a 2.05 ERA and 29/6 K/BB ratio over his first four starts with Triple-A Durham this season. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 16 prospect by Baseball America over the winter.

His first taste of the big leagues is expected to be a brief one, as Cobb will be sent back to the minors following Sunday’s outing. Topkin writes that right-hander Brandon Gomes, who was acquired from the Padres in the Jason Bartlett trade, is a “strong candidate” to join the Rays’ bullpen.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.