The Tampa Bay Rays 2018 Cy Young Award winner felt soreness in his elbow following his first spring start. He acknowledged that he may not be ready for Opening Day.
Last Wednesday the Tampa Bay Rays unleashed their 2018 AL Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, 27-year-old Blake Snell. He pitched a smooth one-two-three inning with one strikeout and 15 strikes in 21 pitches.
Everything looked good.
It wasn’t long before Snell informed the team that his elbow was sore after the start. This is the same elbow that caused him to miss two months of last season when he underwent surgery to remove bone chips.
He received a cortisone shot on his throwing elbow. Initially, the team didn’t appear terribly concerned about the soreness and viewed it as a temporary setback.
The shot going into the outer part of the elbow is great news. It indicates inflammation is indeed the issue and the UCL is not a concern. A CT scan revealed the absence of any additional bone chips.
As of right now, it appears that he may just need a week or two of rest. However, Snell did acknowledge that he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the start of the season.
What if he misses time?
The great news is the Rays are stacked with pitching. Should Snell need an extra week or two of rest and miss a little time to begin the season, the Rays are prepared.
They have former starter turned reliever, Trevor Richards. They have one of the top left-handed starting pitching prospects in all of baseball in Brendan McKay. Jalen Beeks pitched in over 100 innings for the Rays and has 97 Minor League starts under his belt. This is not even to mention top 100 prospects like Joe Ryan and Shane McClanahan.
Additionally, the Rays could always turn back to the Opener strategy that has worked so well in the past. Ideally, the Rays will have a healthy Blake Snell on Opening Day. Despite his bloated ERA (by his standards) Snell actually improved his strikeout rate from his Cy Young season. in 2018 Snell struck out 31.6% of opposing hitters and improved that number to 33.3% last season.