The Tampa Bay Rays’ playoff hopes just took a big hit.
Rays pitcher and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell needs surgery to remove a loose body in his left throwing elbow, The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino reported Thursday, citing sources.
The recovery time is unclear, but Snell and the Rays both believe the southpaw will pitch again this season, Tolentino reported.
Snell emerged as a front-line starting pitcher last season when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA with 221 strikeouts on his way to the Cy Young. He’s come back to earth some this season, with a 6-7 record to go along with a 4.28 ERA. The step back could be seen in some ways as bad luck, with Snell’s batting average on balls in play (.339) being nearly 100 points higher than last season. In fact, he’s striking out more batters per nine innings in 2019 than he did last season.
Regardless, not having Snell for a chunk of the stretch run probably will hurt the Rays. That’s tough news for a team that currently sits 10 games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. Tampa Bay’s best path to the playoffs appears to be via the wild card, but the Rays currently sit behind the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics for those spots while owning just a one- and three-game lead over the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, respectively, in the standings.
Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi underwent a similar surgery earlier this season and was supposed to return after a month or two, but Boston was without the hard-throwing right-hander for three months after he suffered a setback in his recovery and rehab.