Tampa Bay Rays: Rash of injuries threatens to halt hot start
By Austin Reimann
The Tampa Bay Rays have caught the injury bug and now must wait out a rash of injuries that has left their roster depleted of depth.
Matt Duffy. Joey Wendle. Austin Meadows. Hunter Wood. Mike Zunino. Michael Perez. Blake Snell. Tyler Glasnow.
Each of players above has fallen victim to an injury this season… and it is only May 11th. This morning, Juan Toribio broke that Tyler Glasnow will miss 4-6 weeks with a mild right forearm strain. This news comes just days after catchers Michael Perez and Mike Zunino were placed on the Injured List with Oblique and Hamstring issues.
Just a short time ago, Blake Snell was recovering from a broken toe after he dropped an 80 pound stand on it. Matt Duffy hasn’t been right since Spring, but will hopefully return this month. Joey Wendle hasn’t been able to catch a break this season fracturing his wrist just days after returning from a hamstring injury.
The silver lining in this mess is that Austin Meadows, who has been the best Rays position player in 2019, returned last night in dominating fashion (2-4, 2B/HR/BB). A healthy Blake Snell will also ease the minds of Rays fans, but there is cause for concern as the Rays, 23-14, hold only a slim lead in the East.
The New York Yankees are only half a game behind the Rays after winning a close game last night. Now, the Rays are without one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season for the foreseeable future and their hot start is in jeopardy.
This injury to Glasnow leaves the Rays with 2 starting pitchers going forward and the most logical choice to fill Glasnow’s void would be Yonny Chirinos who has posted a 3.52 ERA across 38.1 IP this season.
Yesterday, the Rays acquired Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers for cash considerations to give them a more formidable option behind the dish. In 2017, the new Rays catcher hit 16 homers in 112 games for the Mets. He missed most of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The good news for the Rays is that they will only play 18 games in the next 22 day allowing for added flexibility in their rotation. The bad news is that 13 of the 18 games will come against the Yankees (5), Dodgers (2), Indians (3), and the Twins (3) all of whom have 20 or more wins on the season.
This means that the Rays will limp into battle relying on only a pair of starting pitchers to fend off some of the league’s best while also trying to defend their AL East-best record. The return of Meadows is a welcome sight no doubt, but the loss of Glasnow, Perez, and Zunino and the prolonged absence of Wendle and Duffy could prove fatal over the corse of the next 3 weeks.
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The Rays depth and pen will be tested in the coming weeks and if they can make it through with the AL East lead in tact or at least within reach, it will be a win.