The Rays might be the best developmental organization in baseball, staying on top of an AL East where they’re constantly outspent by factors of three by their competitors by consistently bringing dudes through their system and onto the MLB roster. Or they toast other organizations in trades and turn what they didn’t value into something. But even they can’t solve how to keep pitchers healthy.
When the post-mortem season is performed, and the study of how the Rays went from looking to be the best team in baseball, or at least Atlanta-level, it’ll come down to how many pitchers they lost during the season. Yesterday it came out that Shane McClanahan, the team’s ace, is likely not going to pitch again this season and may be headed for the land of John, Tommy. He will join Drew Rasmussen, Shane Baz, and Jeffrey Springs as pitchers that were in the rotation at some point and are now in cold storage. They only got
Big Bird Tyler Glasnow back in the middle of this season from his own arm issues. Zach Eflin spent time on the IL as well.
The Rays are still pretty comfortable leading the wildcard pack, and are only two back of the Orioles for the AL East, with the latter unlikely to sprint away from them thanks to having their own pitching issues (i.e. not getting more of them at the deadline). But the Rays may be counting on the wire arriving to save them more than surging toward it.
Eflin and Glasnow is a good start to a rotation, and will round it out with recent addition Aaron Civale and waiver pick-up Zack Littell. The fifth spot? There’s a help-wanted sign outside the Trop. The Rays are famous for their bullpen usage and making it work however they have to, and this will be a true test of that. They’ve won seven of 10 thanks to the offense showing up again, and they may need every inch of that too to finish the race where they need to be.
How the Rays counteract all their injury problems will be one of the season’s most interesting watches in the last seven weeks, but it is worth noting that one of the best-run organizations in baseball, at least when it comes to scouting and development, hasn’t been able to crack the code on how to keep pitchers healthy. Neither have the Dodgers, who have Walker Buehler and Dustin May lost in the depths of the elbow abyss as well. Teams have spent considerable time and money in finding ways to get starters through the minors and into The Show without breaking down, and yet they always do. Limiting innings, limiting pitches, six-man rotations, piggybacks in the minors, pitch labs, and yet hurlers end up on the shelf like they always did, if not more so.
This isn’t some call to have pitchers throw 120 pitches or throw 250 innings again. But perhaps we’re getting to a time when teams just see pitchers as having a certain amount of bullets, so they might as well use as many of them as they can in the Majors before they run out. Draft ‘em, give ‘em no more than a year or two in the minors to get used to a six-month season, and up ya go. The human arm just isn’t designed to hurl a baseball at 100 MPH, 80 times a game, every fifth or sixth day without giving out. This is the game now.
ESPN hasn’t been a journalistic entity for some time, and whatever shows that have purported to be one really have only been a weird form of a karaoke bar where people play sportscaster. They broadcast games, and they have other shows where people yell, and then occasionally there’s a talking head doing agents’ and GMs’ business over the air or on Twitter.
So it probably isn’t a huge step for ESPN to get its own gambling wing, as it did yesterday by announcing a partnership with Penn, who used to be in the pigsty called BarfStool, and was running their gambling wing. If we had expected better, ESPN getting into the gambling business might smell to high heaven. But who really has that for the WWL anymore?
Sure, ESPN is in bed with all four major sports. College football and basketball too. They might reshape college football away from the NCAA one day soon, too. They have reporters who are embedded with GMs and organizations all over sports, privy to information that gamblers might kill for. They’ve helped reshape postseason structures in MLB and the NBA, which might seem totally at odds for having their own gambling app and sportsbooks. They’ll be reporting on players and executives who get suspended from their various leagues for betting, who might even do so through ESPN Bet. Won’t that be curious? Maybe in a different world.
Anyway, here’s Julio Rodriguez being a devious little shit:
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