The Rays are purchasing the contract of left-handed pitcher Brendan McKay (who is also a DH) and will call him up to start Saturday’s game against the Rangers, according to a report late Thursday night from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin:
BREAKING: #Rays are calling up Brendan McKay to start Saturday game vs. Rangers— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 28, 2019
It’s unclear whether McKay will stick around for the long haul, though Topkin’s report seemed to indicate that his debut is viewed as more of a spot start after “bulk guys” Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks (the pitchers who usually throw extended innings after The Opener) having thrown three innings each in Thursday’s 18-inning 5-2 win over the Twins.
McKay, 23, is ranked as the No. 23 prospect in baseball and the Rays’ second-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. Since he was selected fourth overall out of Louisville in the 2017 MLB Draft, there has been controversy about whether it’d be viable for him to continue on as a two-way player at the major-league level — and whether his pursuit of that goal would slow his path to the big leagues. He’s conceded to a certain degree by giving up first base, a position he had played in his first two minor-league campaigns, prior to this season. There’s still hop ethat he can serve as a DH in the big leagues, and he’s acquitted himself well to this point — he has a .265/.400/.551 slash line with four homers in 60 Triple-A plate appearances — but there’s a feeling that he’s still somewhat raw at the plate, as he has a combined .703 OPS over 541 professional PAs. If McKay sticks around as a permanent member of the Rays’ rotation, it’ll be interesting to see what that means for his future as a hitter. On the other hand, if it’s just a spot start, the Rays could put off a decision about keeping him a two-way player and avoid having to stick him into a contending lineup before he’s ready.
Fortunately for McKay and the Rays, he’s been absolutely dominant on the mound this season. Over 13 appearances (11 starts) between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, McKay has a 1.22 ERA with a 0.80 WHIP, 88 strikeouts, and just 15 walks in 66.2 innings. He’s been exceptionally consistent throughout his professional pitching career and has posted a 1.85 career ERA and a 0.83 WHIP over 165 minor-league innings.