7/28/2013 6:45 P.M. ET
August off-days a bonus ahead of stretch run
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Rays originally had six off-days in August, but that number got reduced to five because of the makeup game against the Royals in Kansas City on Aug. 26. Nevertheless, five off-days in a month is still rare.
The schedule, though odd, is agreeable to Rays manager Joe Maddon's way of thinking because of the nature of a 162-game season.
"I think in August you tend to be a little more tired," Maddon said. "I think it's just a hotter time of the season. They call it the dog days of August for a reason. September comes up, you have extra players [because of the expanded roster]. And I'll tell you, if you're in the hunt, you know the weather's cooling off and there's kind of an adrenalin thing during the day that you don't want days off. So I think if you needed to regroup and get strong and replenish, I prefer doing that conceptually in August."
Sam Fuld agreed with his manager.
"I think there's some truth to that," Fuld said. "I think you get some added energy [in September] from callups. I think the days that you need to dig the deepest are probably August. Although, at this point, we're in late July and I feel like we're kind of thriving off the playoff race already, like we're already checking the scoreboard every day.
"I think we really had to grind a couple of years ago when we were several games out in August. That's when I felt like it was just sort of a challenge to get up every day. It helps that we're winning so much right now. I think, all things else being equal, August is the most difficult month to get your emotions going."
Four-man rotation an option with upcoming days off
NEW YORK -- Even though Monday's scheduled off-day is now being used for a makeup game with the Red Sox, the Rays will have five off-days in the first four weeks of August, and that has brought up the possibility of going to a four-man rotation.
"We've discussed different things," Rays manager Joe Maddon. "We haven't put it all together. Of course we have our different thoughts and our different schedules. We'll announce that relatively soon. It's possible to do something like that, yes. But we're still trying to put it all together."
Before Matt Moore struggled (five runs over five innings) in Sunday's 6-5 loss, the Rays were 24-1 in the last 25 games started by David Price, Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer. The four had pitched six or more innings in all but two of those starts and were a combined 21-1 with a 1.65 ERA. Roberto Hernandez at 5-11 with a 4.92 ERA currently rounds out the rotation.
"They've been pretty good," Maddon said. "They've been pretty good. And again, Roberto, I know people have been pretty critical of him, but he's also pitched very well, too. The other guys, Archie, David, Matty and Helly, that's been over the top a little bit. The other part of it is [Alex Cobb] is getting well, which also bleeds into it and makes it more interesting. But it's something we're considering, but we haven't decided on that yet."
Cobb, who is 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA, is on the mend from a concussion. His rehab was recently slowed when he developed a blister on his right forefinger, which might turn out to be a good thing as far as keeping the state of the rotation less complicated.
"It definitely would have added a degree of difficulty for what we're trying to do," Maddon said. "But of course we want to get Cobber back. It's a nice problem, we want to keep that problem, always want to have that problem. So we still have a little more time to figure that out, and we're going to use that time."
As of right now, the only scheduled starts on the horizon are Price against the Red Sox on Monday followed by Hernandez and Hellickson against the D-backs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
• The Rays travel to Boston on Monday to complete their 10-game road trip and make up the game that was rained out there on Thursday, which will enable the Rays to play their seventh one-game "series" in club history. The Rays have never won one. It also is the fourth time the Rays have had to fly into a road city to play one game.
• Archer and Moore each threw complete-game, two-hit shutouts this week. The last American League team to have two pitchers throw complete games and allow two hits or fewer in the same week was the Orioles in 1992 (Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald).
• Since Wil Myers joined the Rays on June 18, they have gone 26-9. In the last 50 years, only six players have matched his totals for hits (42), home runs (five), and RBIs (22) in their first 32 games: Oakland's Mitchell Page (1977), California's Wally Joyner (1986), Milwaukee's Ryan Braun (2007), St. Louis' Albert Pujols 92001), Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur (2005) and Colorado's Josh Rutledge (2012).
Myers added two homers and four RBIs in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Yankees.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.