The Rays have selected the contract of right-hander Zack Burdi from Triple-A Durham and optioned right-hander Yonny Chirinos to Durham in his place, per a team announcement. Tampa Bay also announced that right-hander Javy Guerra, whom they designated for assignment over the weekend, has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A after clearing waivers.
This’ll be Burdi’s second stint of the season with the Rays. He came up earlier in the season and pitched three scoreless frames with a 4-to-1 K/BB ratio before being designated for assignment and passed through waivers. He accepted an outright assignment ten days ago and is now back with the big league club.
Burdi, 28, is a former first-round pick and top prospect whose career has been waylaid by injuries, including 2018 Tommy John surgery and a torn patellar tendon in 2019. He inked a minor league deal with the Rays over the winter, and while he got out to a rocky start in Durham this season, he’s tossed seven innings and allowed just one run over his past four appearances. Add in the three shutout big league frames, and he’s been quite effective dating back to mid-April, even in spite of an ugly 5.56 ERA in Triple-A.
Guerra, 27, has bounced between the Rays and Brewers over the past six months. Tampa Bay originally acquired him from the Padres in exchange for cash last April. After tossing 16 innings of 3.38 ERA ball with elite velocity but sub-par strikeout and walk rates, he was traded to the Brewers in an offseason swap that netted right-handed pitching prospect Victor Castaneda. The Brewers designated Guerra for assignment after he walked nine batters against five strikeouts while pitching to an 8.64 ERA in 9 1/3 innings, and Milwaukee flipped him right back to Tampa Bay for a player to be named later.
Guerra walked another nine batters in an even smaller sample of five innings (28 total batters faced) before being designated for assignment by the Rays. The former top shortstop prospect has been working to make the jump to a successful reliever, but his command is in clear need of refinement. He pitched 41 2/3 innings of 1.74 ERA ball with a 31.9% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate with Durham last season, and if he can get back to that form, he could yet be a prominent bullpen piece for the Rays.
As for Chirinos, he worked 9 1/3 shutout innings with a 5-to-2 K/BB ratio to kick off his comeback from Tommy John surgery earlier this year, but his work of late has been far less crisp. Over his past four appearances (one start, three following an opener), Chirinos has a 4.12 ERA in 19 2/3 innings with nine walks against just six strikeouts. His overall season ERA is a strong 2.79, but Chirinos’ matching 9.7% strikeout and walk rates tell another story. Fielding-independent metrics like FIP (4.68) and SIERA (5.74) are far more bearish on his work.
Chirinos’ workload figures to be monitored this season as well, after he pitched just 33 1/3 innings in 2022. He’s already at 36 1/3 frames on the year between Triple-A and the Majors. He’ll head to Durham for the time being while the Rays figure out how they’ll manage a host of pitching injuries that included Jeffrey Springs (Tommy John surgery), Drew Rasmussen (flexor strain, 60-day IL) and Tyler Glasnow (oblique strain, has yet to his season debut).