This year has not been a good year for the pitching of the Tampa Bay Rays. Arm after arm has been retired for maintenance. The injury to Blake Snell is only the latest.
When Brent Honeywell went down in February, may Tampa Bay Rays fans gulped and exclaimed “Here we go again.” Then fellow prospect Jose DeLeon went down for the same reason. The Rays traded for, among others, top pitching prospect Anthony Banda in the Steven Souza, Jr. trade. He, too, went the way of Tommy John Surgery.
Yonny Chirinos got off to a very good start this season. And then, elbow and shoulder issues. Wilmer Font was grabbed off the scrap heap from the Oakland A’s and pitching well until a lat strain sidelined him. Vidal Nuno. Injured. Jake Faria and Chris Archer have spent time on the disabled list as well.
So, when it was announced a little while ago, that Blake Snell was placed on the disabled list due to left shoulder fatigue, none of us should have been surprised. But, this is getting ridiculous. While the Tampa Bay region sells out of bubble wrap, the Tampa Bay Rays have to be wondering what they need to do to injury-proof their pitching staff.
Rays management has big decisions to make for the final 60-something games.
By all accounts, this has been a very positive season for the Rays so far. Heading into the second half of the season with a record above .500 has been a surprise. Especially when you account for all the pain experienced by the pitching staff. But, with Blake Snell going down, the plan for the rest of the season should take a pause.
Let’s face it, the Tampa Bay Rays are not in a situation where they would have competed in the playoffs this season. No, I’m not suggesting that the Rays should tank the rest of the season. But, the injury to Snell should have them reaching for the white flag. There should be no rushing him along. Sitting him down today should essentially end his season. There is virtually no reason to push him back.
The Major League trade deadline is just over a week away. Nathan Eovaldi is drawing a lot of interest on the market. Chris Archer is provoking a lot of discussion. Unfortunately, as of right now, they are the only two remaining healthy starting pitchers on the team. It will be interesting to see if the Rays forge ahead with any plans they might have had to deal the two.
I would expect the game plan to be unchanged. The Tampa Bay Rays will remain a big picture organization. Yes, the injury bug has thrown the Rays a curve ball this season. But, I believe they will continue to build the overall strength of the organization. If the Rays can get a meaningful piece for Nathan Eovaldi, they will act. Chris Archer is a different conversation. But, if the return coming back is appealing, I think the Rays will move forward.
The Tampa Bay Rays should proceed through the rest of the 2018 season with caution. They can absorb very little additional bad news. They should take their time with Blake Snell and see what they have when next season begins.