Rays rumors: Who will replace Matt Moore if he hits the D.L.?

Ed Zurga

Moore is getting a second opinion on his elbow from Dr. James Andrews, but if he ends up on the shelf, the Rays could turn to their top prospect or a veteran to replace him.

Rays left hander Matt Moore will seek a second opinion on his injured pitching elbow from notable sports physician Dr. James Andrews, as the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin reports.

That's never especially good news, but there's still some chance that Moore will be able to return this season. His initial MRI in Kansas City was "inconclusive" according to the team, but even if he won't require the surgery immediately, it appears as though he'll be lucky to avoid having Tommy John surgery altogether. It could only be a matter of time.

On Tuesday, the Rays watched young right hander Chris Archer stump the Royals with just six hits and four strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.

And despite the prominent assumption that they'd need to, the club did not trade ace lefty David Price this offseason. With Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi in the sequence as well, the Rays still boast a formidable rotation, but naturally, they'd like to have Moore if he's healthy.

However, if he misses time, the Rays have a few options in the minors they can look to in order to fill the open slot, though their burly pitching cache is a little narrower with Jeremy Hellickson on the disabled list after having Tommy John surgery himself -- he's targeting June 1st as a return date. Additionally, righty Alex Colome is serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The Rays re-signed veteran right hander Erik Bedard to a minor league deal "for this purpose," according to Topkin. So, the 35-year-old seems to be the favorite to join the rotation if Moore misses significant time. Last season, Bedard started 26 games for the Astros. He put up a 4.59 ERA and 4.38 FIP (fielding-independent pitching), making him worth 1.4 fWAR if you're into WAR for pitchers.

Baseball Prospectus lists left hander Enny Romero as the Rays' top prospect. He was assigned to Triple-A Durham this year, but Tampa Bay might want to see him cut down on the 4.58 walks per nine innings he posted last season in Double-A.

Another pitcher that could work his way into the mix is the recently acquired Nate Karns. Karns, 26, came to Tampa Bay in the Jose Lobaton trade with Washington. The deal could end up being mutually beneficial if Karns can translate his impressive numbers from Double-A into major league production. In just over 130 innings, he struck out 28 percent of the hitters he faced while walking less than nine percent. He put up a 3.26 ERA and a 3.48 FIP.

Whomever takes over for Moore -- assuming he's DL-bound for at least 15 days -- the Rays could do much worse for what will functionally be their fifth starter. Not many teams can adapt to an injury as well as they can.

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