Tampa Bay Rays send struggling Ryan Yarbrough to minors; Shane Baz to return to rotation

The Tampa Bay Rays optioned struggling starting pitcher Ryan Yarbrough to Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and plan to replace him with Shane Baz in their rotation.

"Extremely tough decision," Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "We've kind of wrapped our heads around this for a little while. I know 'Yarbs,' what he's contributed to our club, has been incredibly impactful. Just felt like at this given time, we're better positioned with the five starters that we have."

Baz will start against the Minnesota Twins either Friday or Saturday, Cash said.

Yarbrough led the Rays with 155 innings pitched last season and won 16 games in 2018 when he debuted for the Rays. But he has struggled this season, going 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA in seven appearances (six starts). He is 37-26 with a 4.38 ERA in his career.

The left-hander's latest appearance was in the Rays' 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday when he allowed six runs and eight hits over 68 pitches in 1⅔ innings.

Baz was 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in three September starts in 2021, which was his rookie season. The right-hander underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery in March and posted a 1.38 ERA over four rehab starts in Triple-A.

Cash told reporters that Baz "checked every box along the way throughout his rehab."

The Rays recalled right-hander Luke Bard from Triple-A on Tuesday in a corresponding move to Yarbrough's demotion.

Tampa Bay (32-23) are in third place in the American League East standings.