Hernandez wins spot in Rays' rotation, Niemann to bullpen

Roberto Hernandez
Roberto Hernandez makes the Rays rotation over Jeff Niemann. (Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays have named their starting rotation, and there's a surprise. Jeff Niemann is heading to the bullpen and Roberto Hernandez -- aka the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona -- will be a starter (via TampaBay.com).

Hernandez, 32, was an All-Star for the Indians in 2010 but fell completely apart in 2011, going 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA. Last season he only made three starts due to the circumstances surrounding his real identity being discovered, but he was bad. He went 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA. This spring, Hernandez has gone 0-2 with a 5.33 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 27 innings.

Niemann, on the other hand, had a 3.08 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in eight starts last season. This spring he's sporting a 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.

From the numbers alone, it's a head-scratching move. No two ways about it.

But here's the crux: The Rays almost always find a way to do the right thing with pitchers. Last season, for example, Wade Davis was moved to the bullpen and had much more success than he ever did as a starter. Meanwhile, Fernando Rodney went from a bad reliever to the best closer in the AL. So it's entirely plausible this move works well, given the Rays' history with pitching.

The rotation lines up like so: David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Hernandez, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb.

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