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Sonnanstine, who has the highest ERA among the five current starters (6.61), had a rugged first inning in Thursday against the Phillies, allowing four runs. But he recovered nicely and left after 51/3 innings with a 6-4 lead.
The three-run difference between their ERAs -- 6.61 for Sonnanstine, 3.31 for Garza -- is partly attributable to luck: lousy for Sonnanstine, quite good for Garza. Which isn't to say that Sonnanstine's pitched well this season. His strikeouts are down slightly, his walks are up 40 percent, and he's given up too many big flies. But I'm not convinced that Sonnanstine v.2009 is fundamentally different from the version who went 13-9 last season.
Which doesn't necessarily mean he's one of the Rays' five best starters. Except I'm pretty sure he is, as both Niemann and Price have significantly lower K/BB ratios than Sonnanstine. If it were my team, I'd probably find a spot for Price in the (granted, already crowded) bullpen. As for Niemann, after 264 solid innings in Triple-A it's not apparent what he might possibly learn from another trip to Durham. Niemann does give the Rays six reasonably viable starters, which is nice ... except they've also got prospect Wade Davis in Durham, which -- allowing for the typical rookie growing pains -- actually gives them seven (just like the Red Sox).
As so many have observed, having too many starters is a good problem to have ... but only if you come up with the right solution. Stay tuned.