The Rays will promote left-hander Brendan McKay to start Saturday’s game against the Rangers, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link). McKay isn’t on the Rays’ 40-man roster, so another transaction beyond a 25-man roster spot will have to be opened before Saturday.
McKay entered the season as one of the consensus top minor leaguers in the game, though pundits gave him something of a wide range of evaluations. ESPN’s Keith Law and Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen each ranked McKay as the 14th-best prospect in the sport, while MLB.com (29th), Baseball Prospectus (42nd) and Baseball America (49th) weren’t quite as bullish.
Part of the discrepancy could stem from McKay’s unique status as a two-way player. An outstanding pitcher and first baseman at the University of Louisville, the Rays drafted “Two-Way McKay” fourth overall in the 2017 draft and allowed him to continue at both positions in his pro career.
Thus far, McKay has shown a lot more promise on the mound, with a sterling 1.85 ERA, 6.24 K/BB rate, and 11.6 K/9 over 165 innings pitched, compared to a .216/.348/.356 slash line and 14 homers over 541 plate appearances (though he has hit quite well against Triple-A pitching). It’s worth noting that McKay’s progress was somewhat slowed by two different oblique injuries in 2018, once sustained as a pitcher and one as a hitter — “highlighting the inherent risk of developing a two-way player,” as MLB.com’s scouting report notes.
Perhaps as a nod to this injury risk, the Rays have seemingly looked to turn McKay (if he remains a two-way player at all) into a more direct copy of Shohei Ohtani, in terms of how the Angels deploy Ohtani when he isn’t on the mound. McKay has been used exclusively as a DH when appearing in a lineup this season, rather than any more time at first base.
It isn’t yet known if the Rays will give McKay any DH at-bats in the big leagues, though Tampa Bay has cycled so many players through the designated hitter spot this season (as a way of keeping everyone fresh) that it stands to reason McKay could also get a look. Austin Meadows has received the bulk of Tampa’s DH time this season, and with both Meadows and McKay are left-handed hitters, it doesn’t make for an ideal match. That said, the Rays are flexible with their lineups and positions as any team in baseball, so Avisail Garcia or Tommy Pham could get a breather against the occasional right-hander to allow for McKay to get some exposure to MLB pitching.
More immediately, however, McKay will be used to address the Rays’ pitching needs. With Tyler Glasnow facing an even longer IL stint after suffering a setback in his recovery from a forearm injury, the Rays are down to Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Yonny Chirinos as regular starters, with openers and bulk starters handling the other regular turns through the rotation. It could be that Tampa doesn’t want to overwhelm McKay in his first taste of the majors, and will keep him as just a pitcher for now. Getting some quality innings from McKay would be a big boost for the Rays, as the team could then more directly focus on adding relief pitching at the deadline rather than having to think about acquiring a starter as well.
Maybe they’ll use him as an opener, then move him to 1B?
they should just scrap the 1B idea. He’s perhaps the most one-sided of TB’s two-way guys.
He is pretty awful offensively
And you’re basing this off what exactly? A whopping 90 plate appearances in AA?
Thanks for your useless input Johnny Super Scout.
Granted that it’s only a 60 PA sample, but McKay is doing really good with the bat in AAA.
im sure he can provide value with the bat, but id just question the usage of him as a hitter as well given the potential risk vs reward.
To be fair it was the pitching part of the game that put Ohtani on the shelf. I don’t see the harm in letting him get some reps in at DH. If he continues to get injured then take his bat away.
Pretty sure the Rays announced he was a P/DH going forward…
Well… You’d lose the DH if you did that, so probably unwise…
Mendoza Line 215
I think that he means not in the same game.
He would be DHing when he is not starting to pitch the game.
I added him last week in fantasy. #aheadofthecompetition
Well let’s remember what’s important!
Redraft leagues are so boring.
Used so many pitchers today that they can’t bullpen this weekend so I imagine it’s just gonna be a one start thing for McKay
Highly doubt it. They are in the midst of a massive skid and are calling on McKay to help save their season. He has nothing left to prove in the minors with those K and BB numbers. Plus, Snell has officially become an unknown and the Rays can’t afford to have a rotation of two reliable pitchers while he figures his stuff out. I would be shocked if the plan wasn’t to keep McKay up in the bigs.
I really don’t think that a month 5 under .500 would be considered a massive skid….but that’s just me.
You never know with the insanity that is prevalent in front offices now but if the Rays send him down after retiring the first 16 men he faced in the majors they are stupider than I thought was possible..
If you really think that hitting potential is good enough to DH on a contending team, well I just don’t know what to say.
Yeah, because he has never shown an ability to hit at any level. Oh wait. Crazy how his bat might take longer to develop when he’s spending most of his time focusing on pitching. Who would’ve guessed that?
A two-way player. Or as called in the NL, a pitcher.
Also known as a one-way player that is asked to hold a bat.
Or a strategic decision in the 7th inning.
Clue. Want to buy one?
Depends. How much you selling them for?
Have fun with your “strategic decision in the 7th inning” while it lasts. It’ll be nothing but a memory soon enough.
He’s a 2 way player, so he should be the ROY of this year. Because its so rare for 2 way players.
Ohtani is a better hitter than Andujar. Pitching was just icing on the cake. Move on.
I’m a Yankee fan and I think Ohtani should have won. His success is the reason that teams now believe it’s possible. He has changed the game a bit. That is worth the award.
Ohtani is a better defensive third baseman than Andujar
Also a nicer person.
Is Andújar not a nice guy or something? He’s always flashing those pearly whites on the TV Broadcast
But has Andujar cured cancer like Ohtani? I didn’t think so…
Ohtani is a DH, he isn’t even allowed to field.
Andujar shouldn’t be allowed to field.
It’s sad because both are and should be DH’s for completely different reasons.
Beinvenue a Tampa, McKay…….
Gives the most creative team in baseball even more weapons. The Rays will figure out how to do this correctly, then everyone will copycat.
If they expect Him to go five or more innings, they should bat him 1st, give him three or four at bats and pH him when the time comes. Play matchups from there.