By Matt Snyder
Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann was removed from his start Wednesday night due to back tightness, and it looks like he's going to end up on the disabled list. He's being checked out by a back specialist and is having an MRI, but reportedly the DL is the most likely scenario.
"He's hurting a little bit,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "It's be hard to imagine that he's going to come back and be well all of a sudden. I'd have to almost believe and anticipate that it's going to be more on the DL side.'' (Tampabay.com )
The most likely options to replace Niemann in the rotation would be Andy Sonnanstine and Alex Cobb.
Sonnanstine was formerly in the rotation and is pitching well from the bullpen this season. In 12 1/3 innings, Sonnanstine has a 2.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He hasn't been a regular starter since 2009, when he was 6-9 with a 6.77 ERA in 99 2/3 innings. Cobb made a start Sunday and lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, four walks and four earned runs. He's having a banner year thus far in Triple-A, though, with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings, going along with a 3-0 record and 29 strikeouts.
Niemann, 28, is 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 31 1/3 innings this season. Maddon mentioned that he was most concerned about the sizeable dip in velocity that came along with Niemann's back issue.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.