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Rays send top pitching prospect Taj Bradley back down to Triple-A — for now

The electric right-hander, who impressed over the first three starts of his MLB career, should be back in Tampa Bay before too long.

Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Taj Bradley delivers a pitch to the plate during the MLB regular season game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays on April 24, 2023, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We were just getting to know you, Taj Bradley. The electric Tampa Bay Rays righty — one of baseball’s top pitching prospects entering the year — impressed in his first taste of the bigs, with a 3.52 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 15.1 innings over three starts against the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros. But as quickly as Bradley came into fantasy baseball owners’ lives, he’s headed back down to the Minors — for now, at least.

Bradley was working on a six-day schedule, a holdover from his time with Triple-A Durham. (Many teams, in an effort to be careful with their young pitchers and reduce wear-and-tear, will use six-man rotations in the Minors.) Amid injuries to Tyler Glasnow and Jeffery Springs, though, it became clear that Bradley would play a key role in the 20-3 Rays’ drive to what they hope is a World Series title.

That would necessarily mean both stepping into a five-man rotation and blowing past Bradley’s pro previous workloads — the most innings he’s thrown in a season is 133.1, which he accomplished last year. Sending him back down to Triple-A allows him to get accustomed to a new routine with just four days off rather than five, which will hopefully help him over the long haul of a 162-game season.

In the meantime, expect Josh Fleming and former bulk man Yonny Chirinos — plus a heavy diet of Tampa’s bullpen — to get a lot more work.