Forearm Injury Forces Tampa Bay Rays’ Ace Shane McClanahan to Sit Out Season

Posted on: August 14, 2023, 09:45h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2023, 09:45h.

The Tampa Bay Rays suffer a setback as left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan is sent to the 60-day IL with a left forearm injury, ruling him out for the remainder of the regular season.

Shane McClanahan
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Shane McClanahan, seen here pitching against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, might miss the postseason with a forearm injury. (Image: AP)

The atmosphere in the Ray’s clubhouse is somber as McClanahan’s left forearm injury is likely to keep him out of the postseason, with signs pointing towards the need for Tommy John surgery.

Dr. Keith Meister, renowned orthopedic surgeon in professional sports, will assess the injury and determine if reconstructive surgery is necessary for McClanahan.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said teammate Zach Eflin. “It’s not easy losing one of the best pitchers in the world. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to move forward.”

McClanahan previously underwent Tommy John surgery before his collegiate career at South Florida, causing him to miss his entire freshman season in 2016. However, he made a strong comeback and even achieved a combined no-hitter against Army in 2018. The Rays selected McClanahan as the #31 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

The Rays face significant pitching challenges this season, as two other starting pitchers, Jeffrey Springs and Shane Baz, have already undergone Tommy John surgery and are in recovery. Additionally, right-handed starter Drew Rasmussen has been sidelined with elbow internal brace surgery.

McClanahan’s Impressive Start

In 21 starts this season, McClanahan boasts an exceptional 11-2 record with a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, recording 121 strikeouts.

McClanahan began the season in outstanding form, with a perfect 8-0 record. At that point, the Rays held a remarkable 36-15 record, the best in baseball. They won 14 out of McClanahan’s first 17 starts, during which his ERA hovered around 2.00.

However, McClanahan started displaying warning signs at the end of June, prompting the Rays to rest him for a few starts due to a back injury.

After his impressive start, McClanahan struggled in his next six starts, going 0-1 with five no decisions. The Rays had a 2-3 record in those starts, and McClanahan allowed 21 earned runs in 25.2 innings, including five home runs.

McClanahan’s last appearance was in early August against the New York Yankees, where he left the game in the fourth inning due to forearm tightness. Initially placed on the 15-day IL, McClanahan has now been moved to the 60-day IL for the remainder of the regular season following consultations with specialists in Los Angeles.

The current starting rotation for the Rays includes Tyler Glasnow, Zach Elfin, Zack Littell, and Aaron Civale, the recent addition via a trade with the Cleveland Guardians.

“Everybody in this clubhouse has a job to do, so we can’t lose sight of that,” Eflin added.

Manager Kevin Cash has opted for a bullpen game as the Rays’ fifth starter for the remainder of the regular season.

Betting on the Rays’ Future

The Tampa Bay Rays (71-49) currently hold the second place in the American League East, trailing the first place Baltimore Orioles by three games. With 71 wins, the Rays are tied for the third-most victories in MLB.

The Baltimore Orioles are the favorites with -250 odds to win the AL East, while the Rays have odds of +230 to clinch the division. According to FanGraphs, the Rays have a 36.9% chance of winning the AL East.

If the season were to end today, the Rays would secure the top AL Wild Card spot with a five-game lead. The Houston Astros (68-51) and Toronto Blue Jays (66-54) currently occupy the other two Wild Card spots.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners (63-54) are 1.5 games behind in the Wild Card standings, while time is running out for the Boston Red Sox (three games out), New York Yankees (five games out), and Los Angeles Angels (6.5 games out). The Angels opted not to trade two-way star and AL MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani as they made a push for the Wild Card, but they now have three teams ahead of them with only 43 games remaining.

Despite McClanahan’s injury casting doubts on their playoffs run, the Rays still have odds of +850 to win the 2023 World Series, ranking fourth on DraftKings’ MLB futures board. According to a postseason projection by FanGraphs, the Rays have a 9.6% chance of winning the World Series, the second-highest in the AL and fourth-best overall.

The AL pennant race is wide open with three co-favorites. The Rays, Astros, and Orioles each have +400 odds to win the ALCS. The Rangers, who acquired pitcher Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, also have favorable odds at +425.

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