Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen will have surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, manager Kevin Cash announced Saturday (per the Tampa Bay Times). Rasmussen will have an internal brace procedure rather than Tommy John surgery, though it will still sideline him until the middle of next season.
"(We) just felt like this was probably the best course of action to get him back on the field as quick as possible, and as healthy as possible," Cash said (per the Tampa Bay Times).
The 27-year-old Rasmussen had Tommy John surgery in March 2016 and again in April 2017 while at Oregon State. This is the third time he will have his UCL repaired. The internal brace procedure is an alternative to Tommy John surgery when the ligament tears away from the bone rather than snaps in half. It is less invasive than Tommy John surgery but still requires a lengthy rehab.
Rasmussen made eight starts with a 2.62 ERA before being placed on the injured list with a right flexor strain on May 12. Flexor and forearm injuries are a common symptom of UCL trouble. The Rays had hoped Rasmussen would return later this season, perhaps even as a reliever, but that is now off the table. Tampa's rotation depth chart currently looks like this:
LHP Shane McClanahan(on injured list with back tightness)
- RHP Tyler Glasnow (exited Friday's start with cramping in left hand)
- RHP Zach Eflin
RHP Drew Rasmussen(out for season with elbow surgery) LHP Jeffrey Springs(out for season with Tommy John surgery) RHP Shane Baz(likely out for season with Tommy John surgery) LHP Josh Fleming(on injured list with elbow inflammation)
- RHP Taj Bradley
- RHP Yonny Chirinos
McClanahan is expected to return soon though it's still possible the Rays will be in the market for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, especially now that Rasmussen will not return. Tampa has used bullpen games and openers at times this year because they are without so many starters. No reason to think that won't continue in the coming weeks.
Even with all the pitching injuries, the Rays enter play Saturday with the American League's best record at 57-34. They have a 2.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East heading into Saturday night's game with the MLB-best Atlanta Braves.