Just when we thought the baseball Gods were starting to smile on the Tampa Bay Rays, the curse of satan strikes again.
You can’t make this stuff up.
The Rays starting rotation can’t seem to go through a complete season without losing a pitcher or two to some injury. Tyler Glasnow has yet to pitch in a regular season game this season, and Zach Eflin has spent time on the injury list with a back issue.
Rays Josh Fleming Out For The Season
And now it is reported that Josh Fleming will undergo Tommy John surgery which will sideline him for 12-15 months. The best-case scenario is that Fleming will pitch again for the Rays in May of 2024 at the earliest. That is, providing that everything goes as planned with his rehab and recovery.
Fleming is still sorting through the best option for what he needs to do to get healthy, but it looks like Tommy John surgery is the most likely outcome.
Taj Bradley Shines In His First Two Starts
Despite all the Rays pitching woes, the Rays pitching depth continues to shine and contribute at the MLB level. Taj Bradley will take over Fleming’s spot in the rotation after two strong starts. Bradley is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA with 17 strikeouts and two walks.
With Zach Eflin out with a back issue and Tyler Glasnow out until mid-May, Bradley will be given an opportunity to hold down a spot in the rotation. We knew Bradley would be in Tampa sometime this season; we didn’t think it would be this soon.
After struggling in spring training and failing to secure a spot in the rotation, Yonny Chirinos has pitched well in his two outings in a relief role since being recalled from Durham.
Chirinos has given up three hits in just over six innings of work with three strikeouts in two appearances.
With the Rays hosting the Chicago White Sox this weekend, Calvin Faucher will be the opener on Friday night, followed by Shane McClanahan on Saturday. Zach Eflin is scheduled to pitch in the series finale on Sunday after throwing batting practice on Wednesday.
Offense Is The Best In Baseball
The Tampa offense continues to bash the baseball early in the season as they lead the league in multiple categories.
The Rays have hit 42 home runs this season in their 16-3 start and are just one game away from tying the record of hitting a home run in 20 consecutive games to start the season.
At this pace, the Rays would break the franchise record of 227 home runs in July, and they have a chance at the MLB record of 307 home runs in a season. The Minnesota Twins accomplished that feat in 2019.
Rays hitting coach Chad Mottola says the players have not been focusing on hitting home runs, just making good decisions at the plate and getting good swings. “It’s been about swing decisions, and this has been a product of that, getting your pitch to hit.”
The Rays are also leading the majors in runs per game. The team has scored 133 runs through 19 games, an average of seven runs per game. The Rays also lead baseball in extra-base hits with 81 and OBS at .902.
Rays Everyday Players Are Staying Healthy
Staying healthy has played a vital role in the offensive turnaround this season. Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Manual Margot are healthy and contributing to the Ray’s torrid start.
Young guys like Luke Raley, Josh Lowe, and Taylor Walls have figured out hitting at the major league level in their second season with the Rays, contributing to the offense’s record-setting pace,
although Raley has cooled off significantly since his hot start to the season.
It is unrealistic to expect the Rays to continue to hit home runs at this pace. The offense will cool down at some point. But good things happen when you focus on getting good swings and making good contact.