The Rays are in the thick of a September wildcard race, currently sitting in 2nd place of the prolific American League East at 83-59, despite a multitude of injuries to offensive players such as Yandy Diaz and All-Star Brandon Lowe. The biggest challenge for the Rays, however, has been their injuries to starting pitching.
Other than ace Charlie Morton eating innings and carrying the team on his back (14-6, 3.06 ERA and 209 Ks) in a Cy Young caliber season and Ryan Yabrough’s silently deadly second half (2.33 ERA in 10 games), they have had to resort to a lot more bullpen days than anticipated. This is because of the lack of starting pitching depth due to the injuries.
#Rays Blake Snell (out since July 21) will pitch a rehab game today. Tyler Glasnow is expected to return to the team in the coming days (out since May 10). Yonny Chirinos has completed a bullpen (out since beginning of Aug.).— Jameus Mooney (@TheJameus) September 6, 2019
Rays starting staff almost full strength. #RaysUp
As you can see, the Rays have had a major problem staying healthy in the rotation. Tyler Glasnow’s pure filth and dominance is encapsulated in an article I put out earlier this season while analyzing the Chris Archer trade. “Glasnasty” went 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA with 55 strikeouts for the Rays early on, but went down on May 10th with forearm tightness.
As for Blake Snell, in 2018 he emerged as the ace he was prophesied to be as a young prospect. He went 21-5, with a league leading 1.89 ERA and 221 Ks as he beat out Justin Verlander for his first AL Cy Young award. The results this season for Snell have fallen back down to earth, with a pedestrian 6-7 record to coincide with an average 4.28 ERA in 20 games. Snell, though, is still a big piece for the Rays down the stretch knowing the ceiling of a guy his caliber. He hit the IL originally with arthroscopic surgery to fix “loose bodies” in his pitching elbow?
Yonny Chirinos, the third and least known name on the list, is just as important to Tampa Bay. On the IL due to issues with his right middle finger, Yonny is missing a lot of vital games and innings the Rays were hoping to get out of him. Yonny is 9-5 on the year, with a 3.26 ERA and 2.5 WAR. He has struck out 110 opposing hitters in 126.2 innings as he is more pitch-to-contact. Yonny’s ERA is low despite alarming homerun totals because he’s only walked 28 batters this year, incredibly. 1.058 WHIP is solid and shows that over the course of a ballgame, you aren’t getting many baserunners on.
So, where are they at health wise with Tampa grasping for dear life to the top wildcard spot?
In reference to my last tweet…— Jameus Mooney (@TheJameus) September 6, 2019
Kevin Cash has told reporters that Tyler Glasnow will return this Sunday to start. Big bolster to #Rays rotation in wildcard push.
He alluded to the potential that Snell only needs one rehab start. Yonny’s condition currently unknown. #RaysUp
This is huge news. Obviously in an ideal world, you’d love to get all 3 back and fully healthy. But all 3 will be eased into their roles, and at minimum you’ll have Glasnow and Snell as a 3-4 punch for Morton and Yarbrough in the playoffs. One could actually argue that outside of the lethal Houston rotation (Verlander, Cole, Greinke, Miley), this is the best starting staff in the American League when healthy.
Tyler Glasnow is slated to start for the Rays on Sunday. According to Marc Topkin of the TB Times, he’ll serve as the Rays opener for “prolly 2 innings” against the Blue Jays.
Cash said today that Snell (who has a rehab start tomorrow) could only see one game of rehab action, which makes sense with the minor league season wrapping up. Hopefully for Tampa, these two aren’t rushed back into the September stress.
Photo credit: USAToday.