Shane Baz Dazzles with 10 K's in Rehab Start, Nears MLB Return

Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two
Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Two / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

Tampa Bay's Shane Baz looks more than MLB-ready after his latest rehab outing for AAA Durham, putting up 10 Ks in 4 1/3 innings while allowing 4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in the outing. If you watch Baz's strikeouts from Sunday, you'll see why they think so highly of him.

Baz has been on the IL this season after undergoing arthrosporic elbow surgery in March and recently began throwing innings in rehab starts. The #12 prospect in all of baseball was masterful in his first taste of big-league action in 2021, posting a 2.03 ERA with 18 Ks in 13.1 innings of work. He impressed the organization enough that he even earned a postseason start.

The Rays rotation currently ranks 6th in all of baseball in ERA, but ranks 29th in innings pitched and 16th in strikeouts. Although the club does not typically let any of their starters go deep into games, the return of Baz could give them an extra inning or two in his starts, as once they build him up, he should 5, 6, or even 7 innings in every start. With just how dominant the Yankees have been this season, the Rays need as many arms as they can in order to shut down, or at least contain, that lineup as the season goes along.

It remains to be seen how much of a leash manager Kevin Cash will give to Baz once he returns to action in the near future. No one wants to see the young right-hander have any setbacks in his development or health, but the club also knows very well that he is the kind of talent that will be needed if they want to grab that World Series title.

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The return of Shane Baz is on the horizon, and Rays fans should begin to get excited to watch such dominant stuff on the mound each week. If the Rays are going to make a run at the AL East title or go deep into the postseason this year, Baz will have to be one of the catalysts of this run.