Tampa Bay Rays: Are injuries their biggest threat?

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - APRIL 22: Yandy Diaz #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays is helped off the field by staff after an injury in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field on April 22, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - APRIL 22: Yandy Diaz #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays is helped off the field by staff after an injury in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field on April 22, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Injuries mount up for the Tampa Bay Rays as their sublime start to 2023 took a blow on Friday when news of starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen entering the 60-day IL with a flexor strain broke. Rasmussen had just produced another strong performance against the New York Yankees, with seven scoreless innings in an 8-2 rout in the Bronx.

Rasmussen is the latest of a growing list of Rays pitchers currently on the IL:

  • Pete Fairbanks – Forearm (15-Day IL)
  • Tyler Glasnow – Oblique (15-Day IL)
  • Shawn Armstrong – Neck (60-Day IL)
  • Shane Baz  – Elbow (60-Day IL)
  • Garrett Cleavinger – Knee (60-Day IL)
  • Andrew Kittredge – Elbow (60-Day IL)
  • Brendan McKay – Elbow (60-Day IL)
  • Ian Seymour – Elbow (60-Day IL)
  • Jeffrey Springs – Elbow (60-Day IL)

At least three of the list are done for the season. Both Shane Baz and Jeffrey Springs are on the long road to recovery from Tommy John surgery while Garrett Cleavinger has an ACL injury after a fall against the Yankees on May 7. Cleavinger’s injury is particularly frustrating as it was incurred during a rundown.

Could the Tampa Bay Rays be undone by injuries?

The Cleavinger injury highlights how precarious baseball can be and eludes to how the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense could be encumbered should luck go against them. There have been two other incidents that highlight this to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash and his staff. Back in April, Yandy Diaz was helped off the field with a shoulder injury. Just yesterday, Wander Franco left the Yankees game with neck issues. He should be fine, but it is a concern.

"He wanted to stay in, he wanted to play, but he’s not the guy we want to take risk irritating it even more – Kevin Cash on Wander Franco"

Injuries are part of professional sport and are unavoidable in a 162-game regular season. However, luck is a factor in a team winning a World Series and if the Tampa Bay Rays want to go one better than their 2008 and 2020 seasons, they are going to need it.

It’s not all gloom for the Rays’ IL with Tyler Glasnow getting closer to his return (depending on the results of left side tightness he encountered in his last rehab start). It will be a welcome addition to the starting rotation. Glasnow’s return is still to be determined, but the loss of Rasmussen would be countered when he does finally make it back.

Having set the 2023 season alight with their dominance, now being the first team to 30 wins, the Rays are current favourites to be around in October. The Rays are playing a high-tempo game in offense and Franco has been instrumental in making things happen to get runners in scoring positions with an aggressive approach to stealing. Losing that would take much away from the Rays’ ability to pressure teams.

Next. What the Orlando Dreamers could mean for the Rays. dark