Report: Rays SP Brendan McKay to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

By Matt Johnson
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays came into the 2020 season with one of the deepest pitching staffs in baseball. Their depth will now be tested with starting pitcher Brendan McKay set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

McKay, one of MLB’s top pitching prospects, was shut down before the season began due to tightness in his left shoulder. After weeks of trying to rest and rehabilitate the injury, the Rays received bad news early this week.

Latest news on Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Brendan McKay

Entering the season, McKay was ranked as the No. 16 overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. The 24-year-old southpaw was expected to compete for a spot in Tampa Bay’s rotation this offseason before things went from bad to worse.

After battling some stiffness in his shoulder during spring training, the coronavirus pandemic wiped out Opening Day and the first three months of the season. When the Rays returned for spring training 2.0 in July, McKay was sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

He finally received clearance to return on Aug. 1 and the team kept him at its alternate site to build up his pitch count. Just a few days later, the southpaw reported renewed soreness in his throwing shoulder.

Now, according to The Tampa Bay Times‘ Marc Topkin, McKay will undergo season-ending surgery on the shoulder. While specific details about the procedure weren’t disclosed, the team is hopeful he can return for spring training next year.

McKay made his MLB debut last season, appearing in 13 games for the Rays with 11 starts. Across 49 innings pitched, he posted a 56-16 K-BB ratio and showed improvement in the final month with a .231 batting average allowed.

Impact of Brendan McKay’s injury on Tampa Bay Rays roster

The Rays were hopeful that McKay could return to the majors by September and build off the success he had in his rookie season. Instead, the club might now have to look outside the organization for help.

With the MLB trade deadline approaching, Tampa Bay would benefit from adding another pitcher to its depth chart. Charlie Morton, a Cy Young candidate last season, remains on the injured list with a shoulder injury and has experienced durability issues throughout his career.

Behind Morton, Tyler Glasnow (7.04 ERA) has struggled and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell has thrown just 13 total innings in four starts. Entering Tuesday’s action, the Rays’ starters (4.34) and bullpen (4.23) rank 14th in ERA.

With the MLB trade deadline approaching on Aug. 31, Tampa Bay would be wise to trade for additional pitching to stay in the hunt for a World Series title.