The Rays announced they had placed a starter Shane McClanahan on the 15-day injured due to left shoulder impingement and infielder Brandon Lowe on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 28, with a right triceps contusion. Infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan and right-handed Calvin Faucher were revoked in corresponding motions.
McClanahan’s move may be disappointing but it is hardly surprising. He was slated to start yesterday but felt his injury flare up while throwing his pregame bullpen and never actually threw a pitch in the game. He and manager Kevin Cash both expressed cautious optimism after the game, feeling that an extended absence would not be necessary. That could yet prove to be true, but it seems the team feels he needs at least two weeks before he can contribute again. Whether it will take him longer than that remains to be seen.
Even if he only misses the minimum amount of time, it will still be a significant loss for Tampa. The southpaw has thrown 147 1/3 innings this year with a 2.20 ERA, 32.5% strikeout rate, 5.4% walk rate and 52.3% ground ball rate. That elite production put him squarely in the American League Cy Young debate. Although the Rays are known for stockpiling quality depth pieces, any team would suffer from losing that caliber of performance.
As for Lowe, it’s been a frustrating breakout season for him, with this just the latest setback. He first landed on the IL in mid-May due to low back discomfort. He ended up missing about two months with that illness, returning in mid-July. He was then hit by a pitch on Friday and was diagnosed with an elbow contusion at the time. He’s been ruled out for the club’s past few games, but it looks like the injury is lingering enough for them to sit him out for at least another week. Despite those injuries, he was still able to produce for Tampa, hitting .234/.319/.405 in 61 games. That adds up to a wRC+ of 114, down from last year’s 137 but still 14% above league average.
With both Lowe and McClanahan out of action, the Rays will have to make do with a weakened rotation and lineup for a while. They are currently in possession of the top Wild Card spot in the American League, although the Mariners are only a half game back and the Blue Jays separated from the Rays by just a single game. There’s a little more breathing room as far as the best non-playoff teams, with the Orioles and Twins three games back. However, it figures to be a tight race throughout the remainder of the schedule, with just five weeks to go, with the Rays surely hoping to secure not only a playoff berth but also gain home field advantage in the first round while retaining the top spot. Wild Card Slot. Hopefully, some time for Lowe and McClanahan will allow them to come back and contribute down the stretch.