A’s giving Sonny Gray extra time between starts

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Whenever a team skips a young starter’s turn in the rotation it leads to questions about the health of that young starter, especially after the Cardinals did that with Michael Wacha last week while claiming they were simply giving him “rest.” And now he’s on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

This time it’s the A’s giving 24-year-old Sonny Gray some extra time off between starts, with manager Bob Melvin telling Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com that it’s merely “a little bit of a break” and nothing to do with any arm problems.

Oakland will restructure the rotation around a pair of off days and in doing so Gray will get nine days off between starts rather than the usual four.

Gray had a very impressive debut for the A’s last season and has picked up right where he left off this year, starting 15 games with a 2.91 ERA and 86/34 K/BB ratio in 99 innings. They’ve been relatively cautious with his workload by not letting Gray go past 115 pitches in any start and letting him top 110 pitches just once, but he has topped 100 pitches in five consecutive outings leading up to this extra time off.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.