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Sergio Romo to make first start after 588 relief appearances

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According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will give Sergio Romo his first major league start Saturday, though the plan is to have him work just the first and maybe part of the second inning.

The key here is that the Rays are facing an Angels team that stacks a bunch of right-handers at the top of the lineup. Shohei Ohtani pitches Sunday, so he’s probably not going to start Saturday. The other two lefties the Angels play fairly regularly, Kole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena, have both struggled and are hitting in the bottom half of the order. The Angels could move someone up in response to the Rays starting Romo, but the Rays probably wouldn’t care overly much. If the Angels use their normal lineup, Romo would face Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton and, if necessary, Albert Pujols in the first.

The plan is for lefty Ryan Yarbrough to relieve Romo, perhaps to start the second or the first time a lefty is due up. Yarbrough has started his last three times out and could pitch as many as 5-6 innings in relief against the Angels.

Romo, who broke into the majors with the Giants 10 years ago, has made 588 relief appearances without a start. He has made a few one- and two-inning starts in rehab appearances in the minors through the years, but he was last a regular starter in A-ball in 2006.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.