By Adam Berry
TORONTO — The Rays will get a big boost as they wrap up a pivotal five-game, four-day series on Thursday at Rogers Centre.
Left-hander Shane McClanahan is expected to be reinstated from the 15-day injured list to start Tampa Bay’s series finale against Toronto at 3:07 p.m. ET. McClanahan has not pitched for the Rays since Aug. 24, as he was scratched from his Aug. 30 start in Miami moments before first pitch due to a left shoulder impingement.
It looked like a potentially scary injury at the time, in part due to McClanahan’s emotional reaction in the bullpen when he realized he wouldn’t be able to make his start. But the Rays avoided the worst-case scenario and, in fact, will only have missed McClanahan for the minimum 15-day stint on the IL.
The Rays’ ace went on the IL on Aug. 31, received a cortisone shot the next day and resumed playing catch on Sept. 4. He threw a bullpen session early last week, then further tested his arm with a roughly 50-pitch simulated game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 9. McClanahan came out of that session saying he felt “really good.”
McClanahan has been one of the Majors’ top starters this season, going 11-5 with a 2.20 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and 182 strikeouts in 147 1/3 innings over 24 starts. He earned the starting nod for the American League in his first career All-Star Game, and he allowed only four runs in 19 innings over his last three starts before going on the injured list. Depending on how the Rays align their rotation the rest of the way, he should be able to make four more starts before being lined up to pitch in Tampa Bay’s first postgame game, assuming the Rays hang on to one of the three AL Wild Card spots.