The Tampa Bay Rays lost their ace to injury over the summer, but manager Kevin Cash didn’t have to look far for a replacement.
The American League East-leading Rays (84-49) will send out rookie Shane McClanahan to wrap up their four-game series with the rival Boston Red Sox (76-59) on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The differences between McClanahan and first-half No. 1 Tyler Glasnow are as obvious as saying the Rays are having a pretty good season.
McClanahan is left-handed, with tightly cropped hair, just over 6 feet tall and a native of Cape Coral on Florida’s west coast.
Glasnow throws from the right side, sports a shock of long hair, towers on the hill at 6-foot-8 and is a true West Coaster from California.
While the pair have high 90 mph fastballs in common, there is presently a major difference: availability.
Glasnow will miss this season’s remainder and possibly could be out all of 2022 after having Tommy John surgery.
McClanahan (9-4, 3.59 ERA) probably hated to see August turn into September. He was 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA in five starts during the month.
In his lone career start against Boston, McClanahan fired six innings of one-run ball as he got the win in the Rays’ 3-2 home victory on Aug. 1.
“I don’t think you could ask anything more than what Shane’s given us over 20 starts in his first season,” Cash said. “He has been steady, and any time he’s had to deal with a little adversity, he’s shown the ability to bounce right back.”
The Red Sox also will start a lefty — Eduardo Rodriguez (10-7, 5.12 ERA) — in an effort to split the four-game series. The Rays took the first two games in the set before Jarren Duran’s ninth-inning RBI single lifted Boston to a 3-2 win Wednesday.
Rodriguez is tied for the club lead in wins with Nathan Eovaldi, and Boston could really use No. 11 from the Venezuelan pitcher.
During a strong August, he went 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA. His only no-decision was an Aug. 10 start against the Rays, when he struck out eight while allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Over 11 starts during his six-year career against the Rays, Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 5.15 ERA. The Rays have hit .277 against him with 10 homers.
Boston is just looking to keep it together at this point as the club has been weakened by COVID-19.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and reserve infielder Yairo Munoz — the latter just called up to replace Christian Arroyo, who is out with COVID-19 — both tested positive and were added to the COVID-19-related injured list before Wednesday’s game.
“I’m just tired, to be honest with you,” manager Alex Cora said. “To be thinking about it the whole time and have to deal with this before a game and during the game and all that … The season part, all that stuff — that’s the easy part for me. But to have to deal with all this, it’s not easy.”
The club now has eight players out, including reliever Josh Taylor, who was put in quarantine after being ruled a close contact of infected closer Matt Barnes.
With rosters expanding by two players on Sept. 1, Boston added relievers Ryan Brasier and John Schreiber. Tampa Bay recalled reliever David Robertson and infielder Taylor Walls.
–Field Level Media