The Tampa Bay Rays lost another member of their pitching staff to the injured list on Saturday, as righty Chris Archer joined relievers Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks on the mend. Archer left his Saturday start against the New York Yankees with forearm tightness. While that’s never a promising diagnosis, Archer told reporters afterward that the Rays don’t believe the injury to be serious, and that he may miss only one start.
Should that prediction prove to be correct, then the most notable aspect of Archer’s stint on the IL will be how it paved the way for the debut of Brent Honeywell Jr., whose promotion served as the corresponding move. Honeywell is expected to “open” Sunday’s game, setting the table for scheduled starter Michael Wacha to take over in the second or third.
Honeywell, 26 as of early March, has not pitched in a regular season contest since 2017. During his absence, he’s required four separate elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery and a procedure to decompress his right ulnar nerve. Honeywell also fractured his arm at one point, resulting in another setback.
Prior to those surgeries, Honeywell had been considered one of the league’s top pitching prospects. Indeed, he made five consecutive Baseball America top-100 prospect lists, and he peaked at No. 11 on Baseball Prospectus’ annual list. It’s to be seen if Honeywell’s body allows him to ever live up to that promise. MLB.com’s Adam Berry reported during that spring that Honeywell’s fastball had touched 95 mph and that his changeup “looked like the legitimate weapon it was before.”
Archer exited in the third inning, having struck out four batters and held the Yankees to three hits over 2 ⅓ scoreless innings. The Rays were able to patch together the rest of the game using five relievers, including Andrew Kittredge and Jeffrey Springs for a combined 11 outs.