Rays turn to Alex Cobb, not Wade Davis, as Jeff Niemann’s rotation replacement

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Jeff Niemann is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured right leg, but rather than shift Wade Davis back to the rotation the Rays are turning to Alex Cobb as the fill-in.

No official announcement has been made yet, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Cobb will pitch in Niemann’s place tomorrow versus the Braves. And according to Topkin the other candidate considered for the job was not Davis, but rather Chris Archer.

In other words, the Rays really want to keep Davis in the bullpen, where the career-long starter currently has a 1.86 ERA and 18/7 K/BB ratio in 19 innings.

Cobb made nine starts for the Rays as a rookie last season and the 24-year-old right-hander pitched well with a 3.42 ERA and 37/21 K/BB ratio in 53 innings, but then missed the final two months following surgery to remove a blockage near his rib cage and began this year in the minors.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.