Tampa Bay Rays Ace Shane McClanahan Out for the Season

The Tampa Bay Rays sent left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan to the 60-day IL with a left forearm injury, and their ace will not pitch again in 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 Ray’s clubhouse has a dour mood, because McClanahan will most likely miss the postseason due to his left forearm injury. All signs point toward Tommy John surgery.

Dr. Keith Meister, the top orthopedic surgeon in professional sports, will consult on the injury and determine if McClanahan needs reconstructive surgery.

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 underwent Tommy John surgery before he started his collegiate career with South Florida. He missed his entire freshman season in 2016 while recovering from surgery. McClanahan bounced back and pitched in a combined no-hitter against Army in 2018. The Rays selected McClanahan with the #31 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

The Rays caught a bad break with their pitching staff this season. Two other starting pitchers — left-handed Jeffrey Springs and right-handed Shane Baz — already underwent Tommy John surgery and were recovering this season. They also lost righty starter Drew Rasmussen to elbow internal brace surgery.

McClanahan Started 8-0

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

McClanahan began the season with a perfect 8-0 record. At that point the Rays were 36-15 with the best record in baseball. The Rays were 14-3 in McClanahan’s first 17 starts this season, and his ERA hovered around 2.00.

McClanahan began to display warning signs at the end of June, and the Rays shut him down for a couple of starts with a back injury.

After beginning the season with a torrid 11-1 record, McClanahan struggled in his next six starts. He went 0-1 with five no decisions, and the Rays were 2-3 in those starts. He allowed 21 earned runs in 25.2 innings, including five home tuns.

McClanahan last pitched in early August. He exited a game against the New York Yankees because he felt forearm tightness in the fourth inning. The Rays initially sent him on the 15-day IL after a series of tests and imaging.

After meeting with specialists in Los Angeles, the Rays decided to shut down McClanahan for the remainder of the regular season. They upgraded him to the 60-day IL.

The current starting rotation includes Tyler Glasnow, Zach Elfin, Zack Littell, and Aaron Civale, who they recently added in 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 will opt for a bullpen game as the Rays’ fifth starter for the remainder of the regular season.

Betting the Rays on the Futures Market

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

The Orioles are -250 odds to win the AL East, and the Rays are +230 odds to clinch the division. FanGraphs estimates the Rays have a 36.9% chance to win the AL East.

If the season ended today, the Rays would earn the top AL Wild Card spot with a five-game cushion. The defending champion Houston Astros (68-51) and Toronto Blue Jays (66-54) currently occupy the other two Wild Card spots.

The Seattle Mariners (63-54) and 1.5 games back in the Wild Card standings, but 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 did not trade two-way star and AL MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani because they attempted to make a run at the Wild Card, but they have three teams ahead of them on the bubble with 43 games remaining.

With McClanahan doubtful for playoffs with his injury, the Rays are still +850 odds to win the 2023 World Series. They are fourth on DraftKings’ MLB futures board. According to a postseason projection from FanGraphs, the Rays have a 9.6% chance to win the World Series. That’s the second-highest projection in the AL and the fourth-best overall.

The AL pennant race is wide open with three co-favorites. The Rays, Astros, and Orioles are each +400 odds to win the ALCS. The Rangers, who added pitcher Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, are not far behind at +425 odds.

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