- Rays infielder Brandon Lowe’s season is seemingly over, but he’s not giving up on a return, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times relays. Lowe, who has dealt with shin and quad injuries over the past couple months, explained Friday that he’s aiming to rejoin the Rays during the postseason. A playoff berth isn’t a certainty for the Rays, but at half a game up on the AL’s top wild-card spot, they’re on track to earn a spot. Although he hasn’t played in a while, Lowe’s among the reasons for the club’s success. The 25-year-old rookie wrapped up his regular season with a terrific .276/.339/.523 line, 16 home runs and 2.5 fWAR in 307 plate appearances.
- The Rays activated lefty Anthony Banda from the 60-day injured list Friday and optioned him to Triple-A Durham, per Juan Toribio of MLB.com. They placed infielder Brandon Lowe (out for the season) on the 60-day IL in a corresponding 40-man move. Banda hasn’t pitched in the majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2018, though perhaps he’ll serve as a late-season reinforcement for the Rays. The 26-year-old has struggled at the Triple-A level this season, though, evidenced by a 5.57 ERA/6.14 FIP across 21 innings.
The Rays were hit with rough news today, as manager Kevin Cash informed reporters that infielder Brandon Lowe will not be able to return this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times covered the news on Twitter.
Out since early July with a shin injury, Lowe had been tracking towards a return on a rehab assignment. Unfortunately, he suffered a strained quadriceps. It seems the new malady is severe enough to preclude a late-season rebound.
Lowe will join fellow infielder Yandy Diaz on the shelf for the rest of the 2019 campaign. The two had been among the club’s best offensive performers before going down. While the Tampa Bay organization has quite a few alternatives on hand, it’s obviously disappointing to see two bright young players taken out of commission instead of contributing to what promises to be a thrilling final five weeks of action.
- Injured Rays rookie Brandon Lowe may have hit a roadblock in his recovery from a right shin contusion, as he exited his rehab game with Triple-A Durham with a left quad strain, according to Juan Toribio of MLB.com. That injury, of course, is separate from the shin contusion, though the severity is not yet known. Lowe will return to St. Petersburg tomorrow to be further evaluated, at which point more details will likely be made available. Lowe, who has generated buzz as a Rookie of the Year candidate, has not played for the Rays since July 2. He had previously been expected to return in late August or early September, but that timeline may have been complicated by the introduction of another, unrelated injury.
The Rays have selected the contract of right-hander Aaron Slegers from the Triple-A Durham Bulls, as per a team announcement. Righty Hoby Milner has been optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move, and Tampa Bay already had open space on its 40-man roster.
Slegers was acquired from the Pirates in late March, and the 6’10” right-hander has had his share of struggles for Durham this season, with a 5.49 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 2.72 K/BB rate, and 20 home runs allowed over 98 1/3 innings. Slegers has started 13 of his 24 games, though he has pitched somewhat better out of the bullpen (4.75 ERA in 36 IP) than the rotation (5.92 ERA).
It could be that Slegers will only receive a cup of coffee with the Rays, given how the team so often shuttles pitchers back and forth between Triple-A and the majors to get fresh arms into the mix. Milner, for instance, had his contract selected on Monday, he tossed two innings in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to the Mariners, and is now already headed back to Durham.
Assuming Slegers gets into a game in due course, it will mark his third straight season of MLB action. Originally a fifth-round pick for the Twins in the 2013 draft, Slegers posted a 5.90 ERA over 29 innings for Minnesota in 2017-18.
The Rays took a 9-3 beating at the hands of the Mariners on Monday, when McKay yielded seven runs (three earned) on three hits and three walks over two innings of work. McKay has regularly shuttled between the majors and minors in what has been a promising but frustrating debut campaign for the touted 23-year-old. While McKay has pitched to a weak 5.55 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, he has logged 10.35 K/9 against 3.03 BB/9 at the same time.
Milner, whom the Rays acquired from the Phillies in July 2018, threw just 7 1/3 major league innings last year and hasn’t pitched in the bigs yet this season. The 28-year-old has, however, thrived at Durham, where he has put up a 3.32 ERA/3.09 FIP and 13.11 K/9 against 2.05 BB/9 across 57 frames.
With the Rays seeking to hang on to a Wild Card spot, they will need whatever contributions they can get from several injured players — among them, righty Tyler Glasnow. Today’s update on the situation delivers a bit of a mixed bag of news on the exciting young hurler, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links).
Most importantly, Glasnow was able to make it through a 15-pitch bullpen session without incident. Indeed, he indicated that he’s feeling great about his chances of making it back to the majors after that session. The odds are “very high” that he’ll be ready to roll down the stretch, the hurler says just days from his 26th birthday.
It’ll still be some time before Glasnow has built up a pitch count and crossed a few other barriers (including reintroducing his full repertoire). But that process will be eased by the other major facet of today’s news on Glasnow. He indicated that he will not try to build fully back up to work as a starter. That’ll obviously be the long-term goal, but for the time being Glasnow will target a return in a short-relief capacity.
While that’s obviously disappointing to an extent, it reflects the simple realities of the situation. The Rays will surely be wary of taking too much risk with a major long-term piece, even in a season in which they’re in good position to crack the postseason. And there simply isn’t enough time (especially given the forthcoming end of the minor-league campaign) to stretch Glasnow out on anything less than an aggressive timeline. Bringing him back as a reliever — even an opener, Topkin notes — likely offers the best route to getting some impact and balancing the competing demands. If all goes well, perhaps it’s possible that Glasnow will be able to work more than one frame in key situations late in the year and/or in the postseason.
The Twins hold a 2.5-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central after today’s action, and in addition to fighting for the division crown, both clubs are desperately trying to avoid facing even more competition in the AL wild card hunt. Cleveland (74-51) is currently in possession of the top wild card spot, with the Rays (73-52) in the second slot, just a game behind.
Despite taking three of four games from the Astros, the Athletics are still 7.5 games behind Houston in the AL West, leaving the wild card as Oakland’s most realistic shot at a postseason berth. The A’s (71-53) are 1.5 games behind the Rays.
Had this poll been posted even a couple of days ago, the Red Sox would likely have been omitted, yet a five-game winning streak merits them a mention. Boston (67-59) is still 6.5 games behind Tampa Bay, and don’t have many head-to-head opportunities remaining against their division rivals, as the Sox and Rays only play four more times this season. The Red Sox do have a three-game set against Minnesota on September 3-5 at Fenway Park.
The Twins have six critical September games lined up against the Tribe, but beyond those two series, Minnesota has a clear advantage over Cleveland in terms of benefiting from their weak division. Twenty-six of the Twins’ remaining 38 games are against the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers, while the Indians only face the AL Central’s lesser lights 16 times in their final 37 games.
It all adds up to a wild final six weeks of action, particularly since injuries, roster shuffles, and players on both incredible hot streaks and cold streaks continue to change the narrative on a near-daily basis. In particularly, all three non-AL Central teams face looming questions about their pitching staffs. Can the A’s get their long-awaited influx of young pitching reinforcements once multiple arms return from the injured list? Can the Rays get by three-fourths of their regular rotation (Blake Snell, Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow) still hurt? Can the Red Sox mount a late-season comeback even as their own inconsistent rotation has suffered perhaps a critical blow?
Which two teams do you think will emerge from the fray to play in the one-game Wild Card playoff in October? (Poll link for app users)
The Rays are expected to call up pitcher Trevor Richards to start Sunday’s game against the Tigers, according to a tweet from Juan Toribio of MLB.com (link). Peter Fairbanks was optioned to Triple-A Durham in an accommodating move.
This will be Richards’ first appearance in a Rays uni since being acquired by the club in a deadline deal. A Marlins product who started 45 games for Miami since his debut in 2018, Richards was sent to Tampa along with reliever Nick Anderson in exchange for righty Ryne Stanek and outfielder Jesus Sanchez on July 31st. While Anderson has already appeared in six games for a 72-52 Rays club, Richards has been plying his craft in Triple-A, where he has mostly been working in short spurts (5.1 innings through three minor league appearances).
Perhaps most noted for his past employment as a public school substitute teacher, Richards has been mostly passable as a major league starter thus far in his career–even if free passes have been problematic for the 26-year-old righty. In 238.1 big league innings, Richards has posited a 4.46 ERA and 4.37 FIP. His 10.2% career walk rate sits notably above the 8.3% MLB average.
- The Rays have turned infield prospect Jermaine Palacios into a two-way player – the fourth in their system – according to John Vittas, broadcaster for the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. The 23-year-old Palacios fired 95 to 96 mph fastballs during his debut on the mound, Vittas adds. Palacios joined the Rays in their Jake Odorizzi trade with Minnesota prior to last season. While Palacios boasted a decently regarded bat at the time of the deal, he hasn’t hit much since then, which likely played a role in the Rays’ decision to try him as a pitcher.