SAN FRANCISCO — Head coach Kevin Cash said before the team’s game against the Giants on Tuesday that Rays Shane McClanahan will have Tommy John surgery next Monday. He is expected to miss the entire 2024 season.
The Rays obtained multiple opinions on McClanahan’s injury before determining the best course of action. After McClanahan was assessed by Texas’ Dr. Keith Meister on Tuesday, the club decided Tommy John surgery would give the 26-year-old left winger his best chance at a strong comeback.
One of the Majors’ best shooters in the first half of the season, McClanahan was held out from late June even after the All-Star broke with a tight halfback. He struggled in his comeback, allowing 15 in 19 innings over four games, then noticing tightness in his left forearm during the last inning of his August 2 outing at Yankee Stadium.
A day later, McClanahan was placed on the 15-day injured list and was evaluated by orthopedic team physician Dr. Coco Eaton. He got a second opinion from Dr. Neil El-Atrash after a few days. At that point, Cash acknowledged that it was “extremely unlikely” that McClanahan would return this season. The Rays made that official Saturday by transferring the All-Star to the IL 60 days.
Now, McClanahan likely won’t compete for the Rays until 2025.
“A huge loss, no doubt,” Cash said.
This will be McClanahan’s second Tommy John surgery. He missed his senior season at USF while recovering from the procedure in 2016. The typical recovery period is 12-14 months, but the schedule becomes less certain for players who have had the procedure twice.
It’s another big blow to the rotation of the Rays, which never got a full turnaround of their top five rookies heading into the season: McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen, and Zach Eflin.
Glasno missed the first two months of the season with a strained oblique deflection, and missed his final start due to back spasms. Springs had Tommy John surgery on April 24 and will be out until the next season. Three months later, Rasmussen underwent a hybrid internal brace procedure that will keep him out until the middle of the season next year.
Now, they know roughly how long they’ll be without McClanahan, who previously missed the 2016 USF season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. And this could be their toughest loss yet, given McClanahan’s elite ability and his standing in the club.
McClanahan started the season 11-2 with a 3.29 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched. Tampa Bay has won 14 of its first 17 starts and 15 of 21 overall this year. McClanahan made his MLS debut as a reliever in the 2020 postseason. Over the past three years, he has compiled a 33-16 record and a 3.02 ERA with 456 strikeouts in 404 2/3 innings pitched across 74 starts.
The Rays are expected to use a four-man rotation whenever possible the rest of this month, leaning heavily on the acquisition of Glasnow, Eflin, trade deadline Aaron Civale and converted reliever Zack Littell. Rookie Taj Bradley could finish the rotation in September, if not sooner.
Going into a 17-game, 17-day stretch starting September 1, the Rays will not need a fifth start. When they do, they’ll likely mix and match with their bullpen (including multi-inning reliever Erasmo Ramírez) and a handful of huge guns that bounce between Triple-A and the Majors, including Josh Fleming, Cooper Criswell, Jalen Beeks, and Prect Jacob Lopez, who It debuted on Monday night.
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