Monday marks the beginning of the final month of a disappointing 2014 season for the Rays and Red Sox. Could it also be the last hurrah this year for Rays left-hander Drew Smyly?
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that the Rays are going to map out a plan for Smyly, acquired in the Trade Deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. The 25-year-old lefty has thrown 141 1/3 innings this year, already surpassing the career-high 126 he threw back in 2011.
There is no specific plan in place as Smyly prepares to take the mound in a Labor Day matchup against right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and the Red Sox. Tampa Bay could give Smyly extra rest, skip his turn in the rotation or just shut him down entirely.
Smyly threw 76 innings as a reliever for the Tigers last season. The Rays prefer to keep their younger pitchers around a 20-percent increase in innings to avoid injuries.
"I think right now we're just kind of playing it by ear," Smyly said. "Pitch Monday and then reevaluate after that."
Not that Smyly has shown any signs of slowing down since joining the Rays. If anything, he seems to be improving each time he takes the mound.
Smyly has gone 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA with Tampa Bay, the lowest mark by any Rays pitcher in his first five starts with the team. Smyly has pitched at least seven innings in four straight starts after finishing seven innings only three times in his first 37 career starts.
Crediting a tweak in his mechanics and an uptick in first-pitch strikes for his recent success, Smyly allowed only one run on two hits over seven innings in Baltimore on Wednesday. He became the second pitcher in Rays history to record back-to-back starts of at least seven innings and two hits or fewer.
"My arm's been feeling great. It's kind of a roller-coaster every season," Smyly said. "You feel good, bad, just got to get over the hump. But my past few starts, I've felt great."
De La Rosa, meanwhile, is coming off a start in which he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while not striking out anyone in 4 2/3 innings in Toronto. He will face the Rays for the first time since his season debut on May 31, when he tossed seven shutout innings at Fenway Park.
Red Sox: Pedroia improved, but still sidelined
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia will have to pass Major League Baseball's concussion protocol before getting back on the field, manager John Farrell said Sunday morning.
Pedroia experienced symptoms consistent with a concussion after taking a blow to the head in Saturday's loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. Logan Forsythe unintentionally struck Pedroia in the face while tagging to second base as he tried to swim-move around Pedroia's tag.
"[He's] improved this morning," Farrell said before Sunday's game. "We're holding him out for obvious reasons. We hope this is a short-term thing, but we'll have to go through the normal protocol, and that is continued exams by doctors and making sure that there are no symptoms -- no fatigue, no dizziness, the things that are consistent with a concussion."
With rosters set to expand on Monday, the Red Sox will not need to place Pedroia on the seven-day concussion disabled list. But Pedroia will have to pass the same tests in order to return to the field.
Rays: DeJesus, Casali among first September callups
With Major League rosters expanding from 25 to 40 players on Monday, Tampa Bay will call up catcher Curt Casali from Class A Advanced Charlotte and reliever Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. The Rays will also activate outfielder David DeJesus from the 15-day disabled list and select the contract of reliever Steve Geltz.
The Rays will have to make a corresponding move to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Geltz before Monday's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox.
DeJesus, out since June 18 with a fractured left hand, went 5-for-22 with four walks in eight Minor League games. The 34-year-old outfielder was one of the Rays' most productive hitters this season before going down with the injury, batting .269/.367/.440 in 62 games. He said he is fully cleared to play and has been told he won't need offseason surgery.
• The Red Sox will likely only add one pitcher for bullpen depth before Monday's series finale at Tropicana Field. Farrell said Sunday that Boston will add a few more players after arriving in New York on Tuesday for a series against the Yankees.
• The Rays have committed at least one error in eight straight games, their longest streak since Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 2004, when they had an error in a club-record 11 straight games.