4:05pm: Topkin relays word from Cash, who says that McClanahan’s MRI confirmed the impingement diagnosis, describing it as a “best case scenario.” McClanahan will get a cortisone shot and could return after the 15-day minimum absence.
1:00pm: The Rays announced that they have placed starter Shane McClanahan on the 15-day injured due to a left shoulder impingement and infielder Brandon Lowe on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to August 28, with a right triceps contusion. Infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan and right-hander Calvin Faucher have been recalled in corresponding moves.
McClanahan’s move may be disappointing but it’s hardly surprising. He was scheduled to start yesterday but felt his injury pop-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 wouldn’t be necessary. That might still prove to be true, but it appears the team feels he needs at least two weeks before he can contribute again. Whether he will need longer than that still remains to be seen.
Even if he does miss just 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 has put him squarely in the American League Cy Young debate. Though 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 stop-and-start 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 due to that ailment, returning in mid-July. He was then hit by a pitch on Friday and was diagnosed with an elbow contusion at the time. He has sat out the club’s past few games, but it seems that the injury is lingering enough that they’ll have him sit out for at least another week. Despite those injuries, he’s still been able to produce for Tampa, hitting .234/.319/.405 in 61 games. That amounts to a wRC+ of 114, a drop from last year’s 137 but still 14% above league average.
With both Lowe and McClanahan out of action, the Rays will have to get by with a weakened rotation and lineup for a while. They are currently in possession of the top Wild Card spot in the American League, though the Mariners are just half a game behind and the Blue Jays separated from the Rays by just a single game. There’s a bit more breathing room until the best non-playoff teams, with the Orioles and Twins three games back. Nevertheless, it figures to be a tight race over the remainder of the schedule, with just five weeks left to go, with the Rays surely hoping to secure not just a playoff spot but also earn home field advantage in the first round by keeping the top Wildcard slot. Hopefully, a little bit of time off for Lowe and McClanahan will allow them to return and contribute down the stretch.