Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow was diagnosed with a Grade-2 oblique sprain this week and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, the team said. While his winding road back from Tommy John surgery gets pushed back a bit, who can step up in the meantime?
Four main candidates have surfaced, two more likely than the others, per MLB.com's Dawn Klemish. They include right-handers Yonny Chirinos, Luis Patiño, and No. 1 prospect Taj Bradley, as well as left-hander Josh Fleming. Klemish tabs the first two as most likely.
Entering Friday, Fleming has made two appearances and each of the other players one.
Tampa Bay Rays rotation option No. 1: Yonny Chirinos
The 29-year-old Chirinos is entering his 10th year with the Rays organization and possibly fifth at the major league level. He made two MLB appearances in 2022, one start, totaling all of seven innings. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder allowed no runs on seven hits and one walk, struck out six. For his career, he owns a 3.54 ERA across 241 innings with 205 strikeouts.
FanGraph's ZiPs projection for 2023 sees a 3.92 ERA for Chirinos (99 ERA+) with a strikeout rate of 18.3% and walk rate of 6.1%.
Tampa Bay Rays rotation option No. 2: Luis Patiño
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound 23 year old is entering his third season with the Rays after coming over from the Padres in the Blake Snell deal in 2020. In the first two, he posted a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts (25 appearances) across 114-2/3 innings. His FIP was slightly worse at 5.23
FanGraphs puts Patiño at a 4.33 ERA (92 ERA+), with a 20.7% strikeout rate and 8.8% rate of walks allowed.
Tampa Bay Rays rotation option No. 3: Josh Fleming
The 26-year-old Fleming has spent his entire professional career in the Rays organization, including parts of three years at the MLB level. The first two started well but the third was not particularly fruitful. In 2020, he made five starts and posted five wins, posting a 2.78 ERA in 32 innings on the mound. In 2021, the starts climbed to 11 (and appearances to 26) but Fleming's effectiveness dropped hard. He posted a 5.09 ERA that season. He made just three starts in 10 appearances last season with the ERA climbing even higher to 6.43. For his career, that puts Fleming at 171-2/3 innings with a 4.93 ERA, 119 strikeouts and 50 walks.
FanGraphs projects hit at a 4.39 ERA with 16% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate in his "final farewell."
Tampa Bay Rays rotation option No. 4: Taj Bradley
Bradley's truly the exciting one of this bunch, though most unlikely as well. Not just the top prospect for the Rays, he's one of the top in baseball, as high as 20th on MLB Pipeline's ranking of the Top 100 prospects. The 6-2, 195-pounder climbed as high as Triple-A Durham last year and put up a combined ERA of 2.57 between Durham and Double-A Montgomery.
While it's good to dream, and Bradley will probably make his big league debut at some point in 2023, this does seem like the longest option of the bunch.