The Rays have reinstated left-hander Josh Fleming from the 60-day injured list, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In corresponding moves, right-hander Cooper Criswell was optioned to Triple-A while lefty Shane McClanahan has been transferred to the 60-day IL. McClanahan will now be ineligible to come back until early October, meaning he won’t return in the regular season. Manager Kevin Cash said a few days ago that it was “highly unlikely” McClanahan would return this year.
Fleming, 27, tossed 48 2/3 innings for the Rays earlier this year, allowing 4.62 earned runs per nine frames. He landed on the injured list in early June due to elbow inflammation but has now returned after just over two months. He had previously been working in a multi-inning role, making starts or serving as a bulk pitcher behind an opener. He will likely return to that role, as his four rehab outings were all two innings or longer.
The Rays have a fair amount of rotation uncertainty, with Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen already out for the year due to elbow surgery. It also seems highly likely that McClanahan could be in that category as well. As mentioned, Cash has said it’s not likely he’ll be back this year, with “everything on the table.” That includes Tommy John surgery, which would put McClanahan’s 2024 season in doubt as well. The path forward hasn’t been confirmed, but this transfer means that the best-case scenario has him returning for the playoffs in October.
The current rotation consists of Tyler Glasnow, Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale and Zack Littell, with Fleming likely factoring in as well, either via traditional starts or bulk outings. All of those guys have fairly significant injury histories, to various degrees, making rotation depth a key focus for the club going forward. Taj Bradley has been optioned to the minors and could be recalled at some point.
The Rays are 70-48 and currently possess the top Wild Card spot in the American League. They will surely be hoping to keep their remaining starters as healthy as possible for the rest of the regular season schedule and a potential postseason push thereafter.