Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan will have Tommy John surgery on Monday and will likely miss the entirety of the 2024 season, manager Kevin Cash told reporters. Here’s what you need to know:
- McClanahan was moved from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day IL on Saturday and was expected to miss the remainder of the 2023 season.
- He went 11-2, posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 21 starts this season.
- The Rays are 72-49, sitting in second behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Where McClanahan’s absence leaves the Rays
Armed with a 97 mph fastball and 90 mph slider from the left side, not to mention a changeup batters were hitting .156 off of and a decent 84 mph curve, McClanahan was the complete power pitcher that the Rays needed at the top of their rotation. It’s no coincidence that when he was healthy, the team raced out to the best early record in baseball and seemed like a favorite for the World Series. With his loss, and the uncertainty around Wander Franco, the Rays are in the middle of a one-two gut punch in the news cycle.
Can their rotation survive this loss? Maybe. Tyler Glasnow has to step in and remain healthy, because he’s the pitcher that has the stuff of an ace in this rotation. Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale and probably also Zack Littell seem like good middle-of-the-rotation pitchers, all with their own dominant breaking balls, large pitching mixes and command that brings those arsenals together. The wild card is rookie Taj Bradley, who is still top 15 by strikeouts minus walks, but has been giving up homers — if Bradley can corral his plus stuff, this can still be a fearsome rotation the rest of the way.
Will McClanahan recover all the way? Seven years ago, McClanahan had his first Tommy John surgery. He said it took until spring of 2019 — so two full seasons after he resumed pitching — to really find his stuff and command again. That, paired with the fact that second surgeries have higher failure rates than first surgeries, and you have to feel for the young lefty. He may have a long road in front of him. That said, having the surgery now and ruling out all of 2024 gives him a ton of time, and he’ll have all the banked knowledge from the first time.
It’s still more likely than not that he will return to form eventually. — Sarris
Cash said last week that McClanahan was “highly unlikely” to pitch again this season after the lefty saw a doctor for forearm tightness. Cash added that “surgery is certainly an option” and that “everything” was on the table for McClanahan, including Tommy John surgery, flexor surgery and loose body removal, per MLB.com.
McClanahan was a first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and a Cy Young Award finalist last season, posting a 2.54 ERA across 28 starts.
(Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images)