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Jeff Niemann Wins Rays Fifth Starter Spot, Wade Davis To Bullpen

The Tampa Bay Rays announced this morning that Jeff Niemann will serve as the club's fifth starter, with Wade Davis heading to the bullpen.

With the emergence of top prospect Matt Moore, the Rays were forced into a problem every club wish it had: too many great starting pitchers. Niemann, 29, has been serviceable if not underrated during the last three years with the Rays. Davis, 25, is a young right-hander who's had a good first two years, but still has room to develop better control. On any other team, both pitchers would be starting. Maddon admits it's one of the hardest decisions he's had to make.

Davis will serve as a reliever, taking some of the heavy workload off of J.P. Howell's shoulders. However this shouldn't be seen as a permanent move. The Rays still see Davis as a stud starter of the future and an injury or trade could open the door for Davis this year. But on the heels of a dramatic run to the playoffs last year, Tampa wants to go with the starter they think will be better in 2012 (or at least to start 2012).