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Rays’ Blake Snell to undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery

Snell’s career-worst season takes another unfortunate turn.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays left-hander Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young winner, has been placed on the 10-day injured list and will undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his pitching elbow. The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino was the first to report the news Thursday, and the team quickly confirmed it, saying that he’s expected back in September:

After posting an AL-leading 1.89 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP over 31 starts in 2018, the four-year veteran has battled through the worst season of his major-league career this year. He has a 4.28 ERA (which is still slightly above-average in the offense-heavy environment that is Major League Baseball in 2018), along with a 1.25 WHIP, 136 strikeouts, and 35 walks over 101 innings. He previously missed about a week earlier this season with a fractured right toe sustained in an embarassing bathroom accident.

The loss of Snell is another major blow to a Rays team that was dominant for the first month of the season but has slipped recently and is now outside of a playoff spot. At 58-47, they’re still very much in the mix, but they’re currently a game outside of the second AL Wild Card spot (the Indians and Athletics are the current wild-card occupants), and they were briefly in third place in the AL East behind the Yankees and Red Sox — where, to be fair, most people predicted they’d be all along — before defeating Boston and reclaiming second place yesterday.

Though the Rays might’ve just leaned more heavily on The Opener earlier in the season, they’ve basically had to abandon that strategy in recent weeks since Ryne Stanek is on the injured list with hip soreness. Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks, who once served as Tampa’s “bulk guys,” have been left to fend for themselves in the first inning as traditional starters. WIth Charlie Morton on the staff and Yonny Chirinos having established himself as a traditional starter, the Rays shouldn’t have a ton of trouble figuring out a way to replace Snell, as they can just recall lefty Brendan McKay, who has a 3.72 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over four major-league starts this season.