Tampa Bay Rays rookie pitcher Shane McClanahan has been in the big-league spotlight before and performed on the giant stage of the postseason.
Now it’s time for the left-hander to pitch in his first regular-season game.
McClanahan will make his major league regular-season debut Thursday afternoon when Tampa Bay hosts the Oakland Athletics to close out their four-game series.
McClanahan, whose fastball runs into the high 90s, appears to be the next electric arm to come from Tampa Bay’s fertile farm system.
Named the organization’s No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, he was added to the Rays’ taxi squad after reliever Louis Head was optioned and is slated to be activated Thursday to start the matinee tilt against the A’s.
McClanahan, who turned 24 Wednesday, made history last fall when he became the first pitcher to make his major league debut in the playoffs.
The Cape Coral, Fla., native, who attended nearby University of South Florida, will also be pitching in front of family and former coaches in his first regular-season game.
In the final of his four postseason appearances, McClanahan fired a scoreless inning at the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series, which the Rays lost in six games.
“I view it as an opportunity to go out there and do my job,” McClanahan said. “I’m excited to go out there and pitch. There’s no better feeling than being on that mound.”
In Monday’s tight 2-1 win, the A’s got one big hit on Sean Murphy’s two-run homer and one tremendous diving catch by right fielder Stephen Piscotty to save at least one run.
All of those moments add up and often produce a win in close games such as the ones in the series against Tampa Bay, according to Oakland manager Bob Melvin.
“That’s how you win games like that,” Melvin said. “Close games with good pitching on both ends typically come down to a big hit or good defensive plays.”
The same was true Wednesday as Rays Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier ran a long way for a diving grab in the seventh inning.
Tampa Bay winning pitcher Tyler Glasnow was blown away by the one-out catch in his final frame — pumped up as he looked out to see Kiermaier complete the catch and mouthing some colorful language on the broadcast’s replay.
“It was unbelievable,” said Glasnow, who recorded 10 strikeouts. “My mom texted me and said, ‘You’ve got to stop cussing on TV — cover your mouth or something.’ That was my only reaction I could give him. I’m in shock every time.
“But I should work on covering my mouth like my mom said.”
Meanwhile, Oakland will counter with its own strikeout artist on Thursday — Chris Bassitt.
Through his five starts so far, the 32-year-old right-hander has turned in a 2-2 record with a 4.13 ERA, but it is the whiff total that stands out in his recent starts.
During his last two outings against Detroit and Baltimore, Bassitt has fanned a season-best eight batters on each occasion over a 12-inning span and has also won two of his last three starts.
Over his seven-year career, the Toledo, Ohio, native has made just two appearances against the Rays — one of them a start — and is 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA.
–Field Level Media