The Rays have activated right-hander Yonny Chirinos from the 60-day injured list, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Today’s scheduled starter Drew Rasmussen has been placed on the paternity list. JT Chargois will act as opener, with Chirinos potentially coming in after him. Daniel Álvarez-Montes of El Extra Base first reported that the activation of Chirinos was imminent. The Rays already had a vacancy on their 40-man roster after designating Matt Wisler for assignment yesterday.
If Chirinos does indeed pitch tonight, it will be his first time on a major league mound in over two years, as his last appearance was in August of 2020. He underwent Tommy John surgery that month, which wiped out his 2021. He then fractured his elbow in October of last year, which pushed his return even farther down the road.
Prior to that lengthy layoff, he looked to be establishing himself as a core member of Tampa’s rotation. He debuted in 2018 with 18 appearances, and though only seven of them were officially starts, the rest featured Chirinos as the bulk pitcher behind an opener. He threw 89 2/3 innings that year with a 3.51 ERA, 20.3% strikeout rate, 6.8% walk rate and 43.7% ground ball rate. In 2019, he got up to 133 1/3 frames, with a 3.85 ERA, 21.5% strikeout rate, 5.3% walk rate and 43.3% ground ball rate. He was only able to make three starts in 2020 before landing on the injured list.
He has recently returned to a mound in the minors as part of a rehab assignment. His most recent outing was September 1, when he threw 39 pitches over three innings for the Triple-A Durham Bulls. That means the Rays likely won’t be able to count on him for a full starter’s workload as of tonight, but he could certainly factor into their plans in some way.
The Tampa rotation has a number of question marks floating around it at the moment. Shane McClanahan was just placed on the IL due to a shoulder impingement a week ago. It’s possible he could return after his 15-day minimum stay is up, though that still remains to be seen. Assuming Rasmussen returns shortly (paternity list stints are for 1-3 days), then he will jump back into the rotation with Corey Kluber, Luis Patino and Jeffrey Springs. Another wild card factor is Tyler Glasnow, who is also making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Topkin relays that Glasnow is potentially going to start a rehab assignment tomorrow, though he still needs some time to ramp up, with first start planned to be just a single inning.
Another factor to consider is the schedule. After playing today and tomorrow, the Rays have Thursday off before embarking on a stretch of playing 18 games in 17 days, thanks to a doubleheader in Toronto on September 13. It will likely be all hands on deck for that stretch, meaning Chirinos could potentially get a few turns through the rotation, even if Rasmussen and McClanahan return promptly. The Rays are currently five games back of the Yankees in the American League East, in addition to holding onto one of three Wild Card spots, tightly bunched up with the Mariners and Blue Jays.