Having an overcrowded rotation is probably the best problem a team can have. With the addition of phenom rookie Matt Moore, the Rays' position in the MLB arms race is higher than ever.
The front four in the rotation are pretty predictable. Expect to see James Shields in the No. 1 spot, followed by David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. Of course, all eyes will be on who wins the last spot in the rotation.
Although there are really four candidates for the fifth spot (Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb, Wade Davis and Alex Torres), the decision is likely going to come down to two players. It appears as if Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, who were both part of the Rays starting rotation last season, will battle it out for the job this spring. It should be fun to watch, as Joe Maddon's decision will most likely be heavily based off their spring training performances.
Niemann pitched nearly 50 fewer innings than Davis last season, but their statistics were still pretty similar. Niemann finished the year with a 4.06 ERA and an 11-7 record, while Davis posted a 4.45 ERA with an 11-10 record. The numbers show that Niemann has been the more effective pitcher in the past, but that's something he'll have to prove this March.
It's hard to predict who will get the No. 5 role, but I think the early edge probably goes to Niemann. Again, we'll just have to wait in see how they fare during spring training.
As for the three pitchers who will be kept out of the starting rotation, they're still valuable reserves on the roster. Almost never does a team go through a whole season without an injury to one of their starters, which means that they'll have their chance to step in and contribute during the season.
While the starting five are healthy, the reserve starters will likely help strengthen the bullpen. Whoever is edged out out of the rotation—Niemann or Davis—will become the team's long reliever this season.