Blue Jays division rival dealt massive blow that could end their season

With the unfortunate news coming out from Tampa Bay, what could this mean for the Blue Jays?
Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners, Shane McClanahan
Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners, Shane McClanahan / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

As the Toronto Blue Jays head towards the final few weeks of the season in search of a ticket to the playoffs, their outlook for the postseason may just have gotten just a little clearer as a result of some unfortunate news coming out from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rays’ ace Shane McClanahan was placed on the 15-day IL last week due to left forearm tightness. However, manager Kevin Cash recently indicated that the two-time All-Star is “highly unlikely” to return this season, with the possibility of some type of surgical procedure needed to rectify the issue. McClanahan will be seeing another specialist to confirm the severity of his injury, while not ruling out flexor tendon surgery or potentially even Tommy John in the process.

This announcement by the ballclub was definitely devastating news for the Tampa Bay faithful, as the team had already previously lost starters Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs for the year due to season-ending surgeries. Not to say they weren’t significant losses, but nothing compares to what McClanahan has brought to the ballclub for the past couple of seasons. Last year, he was in the running for the AL Cy Young award until he faltered slightly during the second half of the season, but still managed to finish sixth in the voting.

This year, together with Zach Eflin, they had formed a strong one-two punch for the Rays for much of the season, leading them to their solid winning record thus far and firmly in a playoff position while trying to chase down the Baltimore Orioles for the division title. For 2023, McClanahan has posted an impressive 11-2 record with a 3.29 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, with 121 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched over 21 starts.

Losing McClanahan for any amount of time could be detrimental for the Rays with their starting pitching already battered and bruised for much of the year, so the fact he may be gone for the season could produce a mountain that may be insurmountable in the stretch run for the ballclub. Nevertheless, they have found some diamonds in the rough from their minor league system from years’ past to help fill holes in their lineup, so perhaps by luck they can find an acceptable replacement in the meantime. In addition, they will definitely hope now that trade deadline acquisition Aaron Civale will be able to step it up to help fill some of the void that has been left by McClanahan. But one thing is for sure, it may have created one less obstacle for the Jays now to overcome as they try to chase down a Wild Card spot by the season’s end.