Every team goes through it, but it struck early for the Rays. Kyle Farnsworth is likely headed to the disabled list with a right shoulder issue, which leaves the closer role vacant for the start of the 2012 season.
The Rays have options. Joel Peralta, who took over when Farnsworth went down in 2011, is a viable candidate for replacement. In eight innings of the grapefruit league, Peralta has posted a 5.19 ERA with 14 strikeouts. Fernando Rodney could also fill the closer role while Farnsworth is on the shelf. Rodney has experience closing and posted a 2.45 ERA in 7 1/3 innings during Spring Training. Joe Maddon could also platoon the two, making the decision based on the right matchup.
Farnsworth was scratched from his scheduled start against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, and is likely heading to the DL, but the Rays don’t know for how long. Even if he only gets placed on the 15 day DL, it could really put the Rays in a hole. The Rays are starting the season with a gruesome schedule, playing the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox. In a division as strong as the A.L. East, a tough early schedule can bury a team. The Rays don’t want to fall into a rut from which they can’t escape.