The Tampa Bay Rays will be without their closer for the foreseeable future, as righty Brad Boxberger underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury.
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Timetable for Boxberger's Return from Core Surgery
Friday, March 18
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays manager Kevin Cash revealed that the 27-year-old hurler is expected to miss eight weeks of action.
The Rays are lacking in terms of other relievers with extensive closing experience after trading Jake McGee to the Colorado Rockies, which will prompt Cash to take a by-committee approach until Boxberger returns, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune:
#rays Cash said it will be closer by committee while Boxberger is out. Colome, Cedeno, Farquhar, Geltz, Webb will get chances— Roger Mooney (@RMooneyTBO) March 18, 2016
According to Topkin, Cash said Friday that the core muscle injury was a nagging issue that Boxberger had been dealing with for a period of time.
Boxberger had some issues as well, however, as his 3.71 ERA and 1.37 WHIP were quite high for a closer. He additionally went just 4-10, which was partially the result of six blown saves.
Although he regressed significantly from a 2014 campaign that saw him post a 2.37 ERA and 0.84 WHIP along with 104 strikeouts in a setup role, he is undoubtedly the top power arm in Tampa's pen.
Closing out games was often an adventure with Boxberger on the hill, but that figures to continue while he is on the shelf since the Rays don't boast another definitive option.
The Rays are looking to bounce back from a 2015 season that saw them finish fourth in the AL East with a record of 80-82.
That won't be easy with many of the teams around them seemingly getting better, and being without a clear-cut closer for the first six weeks of the season could put them in a hole that will be very tough to dig out from.
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