The Rays on Thursday announced their roster for their ALDS showdown against the division-rival Red Sox. Notable omissions include outfielder and 2020 postseason hero Brett Phillips as well as left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who led the Rays with 155 innings pitched this season (and leads the team in innings by a mile dating back to his 2018 debut).
Keeping Phillips off the roster deprives the Rays of a premium defender in the outfield and ample speed on the bases, but Phillips’ .110/.207/.164 slash against lefties could be easily exploited by a Red Sox roster that has no shortage of southpaws. Conversely, his omission allows the Rays to carry the right-handed-hitting Jordan Luplow, who has hit lefties at a .245/.360/.539 clip in his career. Luplow’s production against lefties in 2021 has dissipated, but his overall body of work against them is formidable.
As for Yarbrough, it was no doubt a difficult decision on a personal level to keep him off the roster. However, the lefty had a tumultuous season, yielding five or more earned runs in 10 of his 30 appearances (21 starts, nine appearances as a bulk reliever behind an opener). While Yarbrough had his share of excellent outings, the end-of-year results were a career-worst 5.11 ERA and a career-low 17.9 percent strikeout rate. He can still be added to the ALCS or World Series roster, should the Rays advance that far — although it should be noted with regard to a potential ALCS showing that the Astros and White Sox were two of the four best-hitting lineups against lefties in all of baseball.
Here’s how Tampa Bay’s roster breaks down…
- Shane Baz (Game 2 starter)
- JT Chargois
- Pete Fairbanks
- J.P. Feyereisen
- Andrew Kittredge
- Collin McHugh
- Luis Patino
- Drew Rasmussen
- David Robertson
- Michael Wacha
- Matt Wisler
One year after making his Major League debut during the postseason, the 24-year-old McClanahan will now get the ball as the Game 1 starter for the Rays. The former first-rounder and top prospect enjoyed a very strong rookie campaign, working to a 3.43 ERA with 27.3 percent strikeout rate and 7.2 percent walk rate in 123 1/3 innings (25 starts). The Rays were cautious with McClanahan’s workload early in the season (hence the rather brief average start length), regularly capping him at four or five frames. They generally kept him on a short leash throughout the year to keep his innings down after scarcely pitching in 2020 (when there was no minor league season), but McClanahan tossed six-plus innings in six of his final 16 starts.
Baz, just 22, will be making only his fourth big league start when he takes the mound in Game 2. The big stage didn’t seem to impact him at all upon making his debut in September, as he pitched to a 2.03 ERA with an 18-to-3 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings over three starts to begin his MLB career. Acquired alongside Meadows and Tyler Glasnow in the lopsided deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pirates, Baz is widely regarded as one of the game’s top overall pitching prospects. He demonstrated precisely why that’s the case with a dominant minor league season, working to a combined 2.06 ERA with a 37.9 percent strikeout rate and a 4.4 percent walk rate in 78 2/3 frames between Double-A and Triple-A. While neither Shane is necessarily a household name right now, that could change quickly depending on how the postseason plays out — and both are vital long-term pieces for the Rays.