AUG. 25: Chirinos underwent successful surgery Tuesday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com tweets.
1:10pm: Rays right-hander Yonny Chirinos landed on the IL this week due to an elbow strain, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times now reports (via Twitter) that the right-hander’s injury is not only a season-ender but will likely require Tommy John surgery. It’s a tough blow to the same first-place Rays pitching staff that just lost Brendan McKay to shoulder surgery and has been without Charlie Morton for two weeks due to shoulder inflammation. Longtime top prospect Brent Honeywell recently underwent another surgery as well.
Chirinos has quietly emerged as an important contributor for the Rays in recent seasons, pitching to a combined 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 1.23 HR/9 and a 42.8 percent ground-ball rate. That showing was expected to cement him as a member of the Rays’ starting rotation in 2020, but he’s been limited to 11 1/3 innings by a pair of IL placements due to elbow troubles.
Given the timing of the injury, it’s quite possible that Chirinos will miss the entirety of the 2021 season as well. Tommy John surgery typically requires a minimum of 12 months to recover — quite often closer to 14 months. Perhaps with a speedy recovery, he’ll emerge as a bullpen option for the Rays late next year, but getting any contribution from him at all in ’21 would be a bonus and should not be considered a given.
Fortunately for the Rays, they have their typical brand of enviable starting pitching depth from which they can draw. Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough and Trevor Richards are currently making starts with Chirinos, Morton and McKay on the shelf, the the team has several other potential options to which they can turn. Former top prospect Anthony Banda is back from his own Tommy John procedure and working in long relief at the moment. Either he or fellow southpaw Jalen Beeks could conceivably be stretched out to help patch things over. At the alternate training site, well-regarded prospects Shane Baz and Shane McClanahan loom as options as well.
Of course, with the Rays in first place and the Aug. 31 trade deadline looming, the possibility off augmenting the staff with someone not currently in the organization can’t be ruled out. The Rays are considered to have the best minor league system in baseball, so they should have no trouble putting together an alluring package for any of the names that figure to be available. Speculatively speaking, that list could include the likes of Lance Lynn, Dylan Bundy, Taijuan Walker and Kevin Gausman, among numerous others.