Here are three Tampa Bay Rays who could be first-time All-Star Game selections.
It’s been an injury-plagued year thus far for the Tampa Bay Rays. Shortstop Wander Franco has been spending time on the IL due to a quadriceps strain, joining second baseman Brandon Lowe on the injured list (been out since May 16 due to lower back tightness).
On top of missing their middle infielders, the Rays have also been without key relievers Pete Fairbanks and closer Andrew Kittredge. Additionally, you have two starting pitchers recovering from elbow surgery in Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz.
As usual, pitching and defense has been Rays’ strength once again. Ranking fourth in MLB in team ERA, 10th in team strikeouts, and third in team WHIP. They rank in the top three in the American League in all three of those categories. Their hitting leaves something to be desired, ranking towards the bottom in all team categories. But, somehow, the Rays still find themselves with a 31-23 record and were second in the AL East (until the Toronto Blue Jays’ hot streak, winning eight of their last 10).
With all of these injuries, there have been a few guys that have had to step up and fill the void. Here are three players who have played great so far this season and have the chance to become first-time All-Stars.
LHP Shane McClanahan
In his last start against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, Shane McClanahan allowed multiple for the first time in a game since May 5. He’s picked up four straight wins and is on a hot streak on the mound and it’s probably the best he has ever pitched.
This southpaw is now at a 2.10 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 89:12 K:BB across 64.1 innings in 11 starts this year. Not to mention, McClanahan leads Major League baseball in strikeouts with 89. After finishing 10-6, 3.43 ERA, and 141 strikeouts, McClanahan is on pace to surpass his impressive play last season with a AL Cy Young-worthy season this year. Not only will he likely be named a first-time All-Star at 25 years old, but if he sustains his superiority on the mound, he will be in discussions for AL Cy Young as well.
RHP J.P. Feyereisen
J.P. Feyereisen has been one of if not the best ace relievers in the entire league. In 22 games as a reliever, Feyereisen has a 4-0 record, a 0.49 WHIP, and 0.00 ERA. To put it simply, his ascendancy has helped lift an injury-plagued Rays’ team and has been one of their many stars in their remarkable bullpen.
Last season, he showed flashes of what he has been throughout the first half of this season, but never really reached this level. At 29 years old, Feyereisen has stamped his name as one of the best relievers in all of baseball and will more than likely be representing the Tampa Bay Rays in Los Angeles on July 19.
LF Randy Arozarena
This former ALCS Most Valuable Player (2020) and AL Rookie of the Year (2021) has been having an adequate season so far. Midway through the month of May, Arozarena was struggling significantly and only hitting .228/.271/.338 with one home run. In essence, he was lost at the plate and needed to make an adjustment.
In hindsight, his first home run could have been a turning point for him. As of the past few weeks he has stopped chasing pitches and made more solid contact at the plate and has resulted into five more home runs in the past couple of weeks and raised his batting average. He is currently hitting .262 with six home runs and 24 RBI (second on the team), and leads the team in hits with 53.
If Arozarena continues to make strides in his game and keeps improving like he has over the past few weeks, he could become a first-time All-Star this July.