The Rays placed lefty starter Matt Moore on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday just days after he complained of soreness in his pitching elbow following his poor start in New York on Sunday. That start, which saw Moore give up five runs in five innings to the punchless Yankees, interrupted a run of dominance in which he went 5-0 with a 1.01 ERA over five starts, including a two-hit shutout of the AL East-leading Red Sox on July 22. Moore's hot stretch has been a key part of the Rays' recent surge into first place in the AL East.
Tampa Bay believes the injury is a minor one and plans to take advantage of its many off-days in the coming weeks to avoid needing a fifth starter until late in the week of Aug. 12. If Moore is able to return after the minimum 15 days, that would allow him to fill that fifth spot without the Rays needing to add a starter, but they also have Alex Cobb working his way back from being hit in the head by a comebacker. Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said in a radio appearance Wednesday morning that Cobb is on schedule to return that week. If Moore is not ready by then, Cobb could take his spot. If Moore is healthy, Cobb could push Roberto Hernandez out of the rotation. That confluence of off-days and Cobb's rehab lessens the impact of Moore's injury if it does indeed prove to be minor. Still, given how dominant he'd been of late and the manner in which Tampa Bay's recent success has been driven by the top four men in its rotation, it's still a blow. It also comes just as the Rays' rivals are enhancing their own staffs. The Red Sox, who trail the Tampa Bay by just a half game atop the AL East, added Jake Peavy to their rotation Tuesday night, while the third-place Orioles acquired Bud Norris to their rotation at the deadline on Wednesday afternoon.